Samael - Blood Ritual
Century Media
Black Metal, Doom
11 songs (41:44)
Release year: 1992
Samael, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Taking an enormous step forward from their debut in a little over a year after its release, Switzerland's second-best band began to show their true genius here. A good deal of influence comes from Celtic Frost, Vorphalack and company continuing to explore the slower, darker side of Black Metal, and whilst it's not as awesome as Ceremony Of Opposites or Passage, Blood Ritual is still a damn good listen, eternally underrated by the Metal world. It's almost like the band decidedly to remake Worship Him, but better; this is actually enjoyable to listen to compared to its almost too dark and monotonous predecessor. The varied drum beats in the intro section to Beyond The Nothingness work marvellously with the catchy riffing, and when Vorphalack's vocals finally come in you'll find that he's lost none of the Black Metal gnarliness of before, still having a surprisingly disconcerting snarl that fits the gloomy music well.

What a lot of people seem to find shocking when they do decide to check old school Samael out is the slow pace of the music, a Doom-ridden crawl akin (again) to the proto-Black/Thrash of Celtic Frost. It lacks the sheer balls-out kickass enjoyability of Tom G. and posse however, and Vorphalack is much more controlled in his riffing, if hardly technical - I'm always surprised by how timeless Samael can sound - ironically the band would date their music more by introducing electronic elements than they did by sticking to the basics, and whilst it's unfair to call Blood Ritual basic it certainly has all that is required to appeal as much now as it did in 1992.

After The Sepulture especially is constructed excellently, a semi-chorus with a sudden shift in the guitar working much better than anything more pronounced. Above all and even at this early stage, it's amazing to see to what an extent Samael knew exactly what they were doing. The melancholic introduction that kicks off Macabre Operetta is masterly, and whilst Black Metalheads may be surprised at the cleanliness of the production (it would sound True and Norwegian given a little fuzz) and the way it dwindles down to become something almost ambient, the stunning explosion of sound as the title track kicks in and thrashes about verges on shocking. Of course, Samael can't leave it alone even then, but add a piano interlude to really mess with the listener - remember this is Black Metal in 1992, and then marvel once more that these guys aren't hailed daily by the krieg and kvlt.

Although there's not a great deal of variety between the tracks here, there is enough to make it a compelling listen. Samael haven't made two albums the same, improving and experimenting on previous records each time with varying results - this should mean that their albums get better and better, but unfortunately this is not the case. However, Blood Ritual has a lot to recommend it, and even as we faithful few mourn the band's lack of status, we mustn't forget to headbang to wonderful tunes like With The Gleam Of The Torches - Samael becoming a truly excellent band from this album on.

Killing Songs :
Beyond The Nothingness, After The Sepulture, Macabre Operetta, With The Gleam Of The Torches, Bestial Devotion
Goat quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Samael that we have reviewed:
Samael - Solar Soul reviewed by Cory and quoted 56 / 100
Samael - Reign of Light reviewed by Cory and quoted 86 / 100
Samael - Lux Mundi reviewed by Cory and quoted 92 / 100
Samael - Passage reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Samael - Ceremony Of Opposites reviewed by Goat and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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