Lux Mundi (Season of Mist)
By Mike Delano
Samael has been all over the map as of late. The band took its post-Passage pop experiments to their extreme, unsatisfying conclusion before throwing a curveball with Above, a black metal wall of sound so impenetrable that it felt a little too calculated in its stark stylistic shift. The happy medium was always somewhere in the middle of these two ends of the spectrum, so has the Swiss ship been righted on Lux Mundi? Yessir. “Luxferre” kicks things off on the perfect note, channeling “Moongate” grooves into a lean, mean track that’s exactly the path the band should be on. Samael settles into its trademark midtempo mood soon afterwards and plays things a little too safe at times, but the highlights leave more of an impression than any of those dips. The epic “Pagan Trance” is a rich account of a dark ritual (“with flowers in their hair like a crown of noon”), the storming “In Gold We Trust” is a thrashy beast, and the way the acoustic guitars blend with the keyboards and electric riffs on the fantastic “The Shadow of the Sword” is the perfect reminder of how awesome the band can be when they stick to their strengths.