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Samael > Passage > Reviews
Samael - Passage

Galactic - 89%

Felix 1666, February 24th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Century Media Records

The release of Samael's fourth longplayer "Passage" is already more than 20 years ago, but I still remember that I was very impressed after the first listening sessions. During the last years, the album fell into oblivion, but it is worth to rediscover this work. It houses great compositions that try to square the circle. Why? Well, Samael have chosen to present their tunes with an almost sterile sound (listen, for example, to the intro of "Angel's Decay"), but this does not mean that they are not able to create great feelings and songs with a remarkable depth. On the one hand, this is due to the help of Waldemar Sorychta. He produced this album and probably you know that he is rather a sound wizard than an ordinary producer. In other words, the mix of "Passage" is, despite its polished appearance, near to perfection. The album sounds powerful, massive and robust. Fortunately, the affinity for electric sounds does not stop the power of the drums and the guitars also play their role in a great manner while creating, in union with the keyboards, some pretty dramatic sections.

On the other hand, the band itself demonstrates its capability to write catchy songs that combine bombastic elements with cold intolerance. Furthermore, the pieces are catchy and equipped with many ominous parts that have the power to teach sensitive souls the meaning of fear. Finally, the album scores with an enormous intensity. All these features culminate in "The Ones Who Came Before" with its sublime chorus. Samael send greetings from a cold and dark galaxy, but this kind of greetings makes my spine tingle. Yet even less demonic tracks such as the melodically flowing "Moonskin" have their charm. This is not to say that this song will crush your skull, but it relies on a stable idea and does not offer half-baked material. Anyway, the tunes where the double bass insists on its right are the tracks that shape the picture of "Passage". Coherent leads meet atmospheric keyboards on an equal footing, but there can be no doubt that the general heaviness of the compositions reaches a more than solid level. Inter alia the great number of parts which create a maelstrom-like aura draw the listener into the songs due to their density, intensity and, well, heaviness. No doubt, the guys know how to thicken their sound in order to achieve the greatest possible impact.

Admittedly, the album suffers from the Samael-syndrome, but fortunately only to a small extent. Anyway, it is another record of the band whose second half cannot fully keep up with the songs of the first half. Yet the experienced formation avoids fillers and to build monuments like "Rain" or "Shining Kingdom" is anything else but a matter of course, even for undisputably great musicians. And Samael show their skills in many ways. It is, for example, remarkable, that more or less each and every number develops its own character, although they are all based on similar patterns with nearly standardized playtimes. Finally, and maybe this has been the greatest challenge that the Swiss artists mastered, "Passage" features a band that has modified its style in a comprehensible, credible and abssolutely convincing manner. Samael are not interested in stagnation, but they also do not surprise with experiments that stand in sharp contrast to the works that catapulted them into the focus of the scene. "Passage" makes clear that its predecessor "Ceremony of Opposites" was both: a glorious album which stood on its own feet, but the logical link between "Blood Rituals" and the here presented full-length as well. It can therefore be no doubt that the mid-nineties marked the golden age of Samael. I will listen again to "Passage" - and I won't wait until 2038 to do so.

Okay, Now Dance! - 95%

IndividualThought, January 9th, 2012

This is magnificent. That is the first thing that popped into my head after playing it for the first time, and then the countless times afterwards, delaying my schoolwork. "Screw school, listen to metal!" right kids? No, I'm wrong. Go to school. Anyway, "Passage" is an almost perfect amalgamation of symphonic black metal and industrial metal. May be the best I've heard in a while, if not my entire career as a metal enthusiast. The album starts off with an amazing riff that made me smile the second I heard it, "Rain", my, what an opener.

The album continues down the same awesome path of industrial passages that make you want to dance (hence my title) and riffs that make you headbang 'til your head is sore. Needless to say, my teachers are worried as to why I like to nod to everything. Amazing to say it never gets boring, the riffs are all amazing, really heavy, really aplenty. None recycled. The guitars just might be my favorite aspect of the entire album.

The reason I withdrew from given the album a perfect 100%, is for the fact of the drum machine, the drums feel as if they have no soul. The drums are almost just there to keep a beat, but my what a beat. Now, if Samael incorporated a real drummer (in 1996, not that I'm asking for a remake because that always goes according to plan) this album would have easily scored higher than 100%, but alas, the drummer is a machine.

Highlights: "Rain", "Angel's Decay", "Jupiterian Vibe", "Moonskin", "Born Under Saturn", in no particular order.

An awesome album from start to finish, excluding the drum machine (I guess it might be suitable now that I consider, it is an industrial metal album after all), a great addition to any metalhead's collection, even if you're not into industrial, you might be after this. GET THIS NOW.

One of my favorites - 98%

FrostOfTheBlack, May 22nd, 2007

And here we have...a black/industrial release? In's more like an industrial release with a few influences from black metal.

This description alone would not be enough to grab my attention. I'm a fan of other genres of metal, but industrial metal really isn't one of them. I don't have anything against it, but industrial metal is just not my thing.

Yet for some reason, this album is one of my favorite of all time. It is powerful, it is beautiful, and it is unique. Let me explain why.

Samael started their career as one of the first 2nd wave black metal bands. They were a very good one at that too, using some hints of electronica and keyboards over a powerful and hard-hitting black metal sound. With Passage, they lost much of that.

The music on here is heavily rhythmic, with some excellent electric drums to drive the beats. Perhaps the best part of the whole album is the sound of the electronic snare drum. It is so clear, so potent, and such a central part of the album that it is hard to miss. Just listen to the beginning of "Shining Kingdom" and see how it continues to drive the entire song. The keyboards employed aren't heavily abused; they provide some beautiful melodic passages to really set Samael apart from other industrial metal bands. In fact it may be the melodic passages of the keyboards that make the release so fantastic. Check out the haunting introduction to "Angel's Decay" and the soothing melody in "Moonskin".
Vocals are very deep and somewhat rough, though entirely intelligible. They're a little lighter than earlier Samael releases, but great nonetheless. The guitars provide plenty of heavy parts, as in the simple intro riff to Chosen Race and Liquid Soul Dimension. The guitars and bass don't play a big role in this album, but they are present and they help create a solid sound.

Best songs: Angel's Decay, Moonskin, Shining Kingdom, A Man in Your Head

Overall I'd recommend this to any industrial metal fan. Also, if you're a black metal fan who is open to black metal fusion artists (like Limbonic Art), you may like this album too. This is one of my favorite metal releases of all time.

In comes industrial - 90%

BoomStick, June 19th, 2004

Being release around two years after Samael’s best release “Ceremony of opposites,” this release, “Passage,” is easily their second best work too date. The style has changed quite a bit since CoO; it sound not as dark and grindier as previous releases. This is where Samael add in a little of their industrial genre. There are many changes in the style of music; I think that a few of the songs are less intense and more laid back then usual samael. Tracks like “MoonSkin,” are slower and not too intense, I would almost say that the song is kind of epic like something “Amon Amarth” would do. The atmosphere is more peaceful and happy…that is not saying its happy music it is just easier to listen to. Whereas other tracks like, “Born under Saturn,” are more powerful and demanding songs; so this album varies lots in its different tracks which makes it a brilliant release.

Several new aspects and styles are added into this album. Keyboard work is brilliant and is especially noticeable in songs like, “MoonSkin.” Vocals are about the same as other releases, maybe not quite as harsh. Lyrically “Passage,” does not have death or black metal lyrics as they used to be. The lyrics tend to be more about myth and odd twisted stories about gods and such. Some of the lyrics are rather disturbing. Drumming is exceptional in all of the songs keeping good time and such.

Best songs…
-Born Under Saturn
-Shining kingdom
-The ones who came before

Quite a few of the tracks are a little better then so-so, there are really only two exceptional songs on the album…that would be Moonskin, and Born Under Saturn. This is a worth while release by Samael however Ceremony of Opposites is by far their best release to date.

Thanks, BoomStick

My first Samael disc- - 90%

KK, April 13th, 2004

Though an evolution from Samael's pioneering black metal sound, I really do enjoy Passage.

Sometimes this disc is hard to listen to, but every once in awhile I find "Rain", "Born Under Saturn", and "Jupiterian Vibe" bashing my face in.

This CD has a lot of synth and more "advanced" sounding material in it compared to earlier releases but much in the sense of transition albums like Amok and Chaos A.D., retains enough of the feel of earlier material to thouroughly brutalize.

Vorph's vocals are pretty decent here. I've always though him to be a different and entertaining vocalist.

Some slower parts of the CD are quite beautiful. The intro to Angel's Decay is a keyboard/drum/synth epic that leads into some slow crushing metal ala Sign of Fear and Skullkrusher. Moonskin, from beginning to end, is a stunningly enchanting song. The keyboards in the background almost mirror the lyrics in their hauntingness of the song. You feel the futuristic sound of desolation and despair throughout.

At 2:48, Born Under Saturn provides what I at once thought was the most headbangingly crushing riff I've ever heard. That was before I heard Beneath the Remains, but Born Under Saturn remains up top.

This is a very solid Samael album that should appeal to fans of the older and newer stuff alike.