Samael - Ceremony Of Opposites
Century Media
Melodic Black Metal
10 songs (36:03)
Release year: 1994
Samael, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

For their third full-length, Samael would pull the stops out. Ceremony Of Opposites remains one of the most staggering pieces of Black Metal ever to come from the early nineties, not least because it's so melodic and catchy and simply damn fun to listen to. In case you need reminding, 1994 was an important year in Black Metal; Transilvanian Hunger, In The Nightside Eclipse and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas just some of the classic albums released that year. Ceremony Of Opposites sits uneasily in that company - although heavily atmospheric, it is without doubt an album full of songs, three-to-four minute slices of riffs and catchiness that sound more like Dark Tranquillity these days than the august and kvlt peers that they belong with. Controversy reigns amongst the nerdier sections of the underground as to what genre exactly the band fits best in; let's leave that to one side, and marvel instead at how far ahead of its time this album was. The especially clear production gives the guitars and drums an epic crunch that doesn't swallow any of the other instruments, and makes for a mildly militaristic feel which has aged wonderfully.

Opening with the speed-drenched Black Trip, the band rage into action before slowing to a mid-paced groove that dictates much of the album. With a defiantly catchy chorus and epic build, the song is just one of many excellent examples of Samael's killer songwriting skills. The following Celebration Of The Fourth pounds along, the keyboards coming into their own behind Vorphalack's vocal exclamations, giving that extra bit of atmospheric oomph lost from the move away from the Black/Doom sounds of previous albums. You can't praise the musicianship enough, especially the killer duo of Vorphalack and Xytras on guitar and drums, the former filling every hole and barely leaving the bass room to rumble as he cranks out killer riff after killer riff, and the latter providing a technical and diverse battery that verges on the tribal at times, strong and powerful. Of course, Masmiseim's bass is audible and adds a great deal to the atmosphere, as do contributions from Rodolphe H. on keyboards (although he can't have been that great, since he didn't get a cool alter ego like the rest of the band) but it's that thrashy interaction between the two brothers that makes this stage of Samael so fantastic.

Really, you could take any song from the album and use it as a prototype for future Gothenburg catchiness. Son Of Earth especially is maddeningly catchy without sacrificing twisty complexity, but there isn't a weak track present. 'Til We Meet Again has a kind of Rotting Christ-esque Gothic pound, Mask Of The Red Death grooves an infectious path all of its own, and the wonderful Baphomet's Throne opens with orchestral flourish before devolving into the kind of epic stomper that lesser bands would sacrifice their mothers for. In case the message hasn't gotten over, let me say it again: Ceremony Of Opposites has utterly perfect songwriting, and is destined to become a vital part of your collection from the moment you purchase it. I defy anyone to resist the intense bludgeoning of Flagellation, the crawling grandiosity of Crown, the closing finality of the title track - I've had this album for years, a regular on my playlist that never gets old or boring. Although they would infamously go on to become an Industrial Metal act, this is without a doubt the greatest thing Samael did, an album that should be part of every Metalhead's collection - get the double-disc reissue with the Rebellion EP for even more brilliance, including a ridiculously awesome Alice Cooper cover which has to be heard to be believed.

Killing Songs :
All, especially Black Trip, Son Of Earth, Baphomet's Throne, Crown, Ceremony Of Opposites
Goat quoted 95 / 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 - Blood Ritual reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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