Yer Metal is Olde: Samael – Ceremony of Opposites

samael-ceremony-of-oppositesWe at AMG have a sense of history and like to think we’re in touch with metal’s ancient lore (kindly refrain from jokes about Steel Druhm’s age). With that in mind, we thought it might be fun to highlight notable albums released between twenty and thirty years ago in a new feature we call…YER METAL IS OLDE!

Back in 1994, a little Swiss group of young miscreants with some pretty impressive musical chops churned out odes to thrones of Baphomet, bulged-tummy women, and great vaginas of Earth. Hey, their words, not mine. Despite the ESL lyrics, Samael threw down a pretty hefty gauntlet on their third album (and second for Century Media), Ceremony of Opposites. What better way to kick off the inaugural edition of YER METAL IS OLDE!!!, a loving (usually) tribute to albums in need of carbon-dating.

Black Trip” starts off with some shrill feedback before the incessant drumming and riffing kicks in. One thing of note about the album (and what would later be promoted by bands inspired by Ceremony) is how immense the drum sound was, and it hits you right in the face HARD, to the point of overpowering almost all the other instruments. Producer Waldemar Sorychta and engineer Siggi Bemm took pride in getting a fat drum sound, and it was much heralded back then. Now? Maybe not so much, but it’s still a damn good song with some heavy orchestration by Rodolphe H. (who, besides touring with them for this record and the follow-up EP, Rebellion, would disappear off the face of the earth).

Samael_1994And for such a young band, the evil vibe given off by Ceremony of Opposites was tremendous. Rodolphe’s keyboards are abundant on here, and his command of atmosphere is incredible. Vorphalack’s howling and snarling had improved immensely from their previous album, Blood Ritual. “Black Trip,”,perennial live favorite “Baphomet’s Throne,” and the closing title track display his vicious screams and capable riffing quite well. His brother/composer, Xytras, while no slouch as a songwriter or keyboardist (which he would later take over full-time, giving up the drums almost entirely), isn’t quite as tight. However, his sense of dynamics in certain songs is impeccable. “‘Till We Meet Again” still sounds incredibly evil to this very day, and the ending to “Ceremony of Opposites” is just downright majestic and awe-inspiring. This was the album that thrusted Samael into the big leagues, and would continue to provide inspiration to this very day.

This would turn out to be Samael’s final dip into black waters before veering off into industrial territories with mixed results (save for Passage, which was also a beast of an album). It still remains to be seen if they will ever recapture the glory radiating from their early days. However, no one will dispute that Ceremony of Opposites was a unique, strong candidate for one of 1994’s most remembered albums. Show yourself the way, my friends [Hehehe… great vaginas of Earth Steel “Juvenile” Druhm].

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