I first heard of the Swedish Heavy Metal band, Samael, on Pandora’s* Music Genome Experiment site. Samael’s Symphonic/Industrial Metal sound and Vorph’s harsh Death Metal vocals instantly fascinated me. As I am genetically hardwired to enjoy only a specific sub genre of Metal, my galvanic skin reaction, which I have learned to trust implicitly, quickly reinforced its worth.
I searched my locale for any of Samael’s albums with predictable negative results. Since buying CD’s without seeing and touching them first is a peculiarity of mine, I had to wait until we visited Brisbane before I found a store, JB HiFi, with enough good taste to actually stock it. I grabbed the only album they had, cackling like a madman once it was in my possession.
Listening to the album, Reign of Light, for the first time would rank in my life’s top ten moments of pure pleasure. I enjoyed every song. None of them appeared to be half arsed filler material. I only hope the wife forgives my inability to wait for a private moment. Its inaugural performance was blasted over the car stereo on the way to visit her parents. (She’s an ABBA lover. Say no more.)
At first I just enjoyed the music, couldn’t get enough. Then came the only hiccup in the experience. A few listens later I began to discern some of the lyrics and a certain feeling of disquiet came over me. I then read the lyrics in the cover booklet and got very worried. There is no swearing, reference to Satan, or the killing and eating of children. Had I inadvertently purchased a Christian Metal band by mistake? The thought froze me to my heavy metal core. Already panicking, and ready to be desperately embarrassed, I clawed at my memory recalling how many people I told I loved this album.
Frantically trawling the Internet yielded reassuring information and I slowly convinced myself that I had been mistaken. They were in fact a satanically influenced band in the past. The reasoning behind my original panic is the incomprehensible inoffensiveness of the lyrics despite the energy of the music and murderous tone of voice.
For an example, here are the chorus lyrics from the track Reign of Light:
Shout it loud and proud
I’m the hyper star
Shining on your life
Keeping you from falling
Back to your own start
World is at your door
Yesterday at your back
Now take a step forward
You’re on your way
Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t say it made a lot of sense. Their combination of astronomical imagery, transcendental desires and a search for understanding could be readily misunderstood to be quasi-religious. You may sympathize with my initial concern. I think they pull it off though; it’s not at all girly. I still love it. It actually energizes and calms me at the same time.
Be warned though, playing this album at the local Four Square Church may still get you beaten to death with their largest bibles. But just think how embarrassed they would be later when faced with a transcript of Samael’s innocuous intentions.
*I, and every other non-US resident, was banned from using Pandora’s excellent music search engine by the RIAA when the copyright wars were at their height. I now use Last.FM. It isn’t as easy to navigate as Pandora but at least I have constant heavy metal at my fingertips.