Review by Sonny for Samael - Blood Ritual (1992) Review by Sonny for Samael - Blood Ritual (1992)

Sonny Sonny / April 02, 2024 / 0

Whilst listening to Blood Ritual, it struck me how early in black metal's second wave 1992 actually was. Contemporary releases to this were debut albums from Burzum and Immortal and Darkthrone's first dive into black metal iciness, A Blaze in the Northern Sky. Surprisingly, though, Blood Ritual sounds far more like modern Darkthrone than it does their unholy trinity, with a lot of slower tempo riffing that feels more doomy than black metal, a path Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have been exploring with vigour over their last two or three releases, so in a way I guess black metal has finally come full circle.

Anyway, that aside, Samael were obviously influenced by their legendary countrymen, Celtic Frost, with the opening riff of Bestial Devotion sounding like it was ripped directly from the grooves of To Mega Therion. Most of the quicker-paced riffing here sounds quite thrashy and certainly has more in common with Tom G. Warrior than the tremolo riffing being touted at the time by their cutting edge norwegian black metal contemporaries. Add to this the beefier production and it is apparent that Samael aren't going to propogate the same kind of frosty atmosphere as the scandinavians, making the album more blunt force trauma than icy stilleto wound.

Of course that doesn't mean this is a bad album, in fact it most definitely is not. The extended attention I have afforded it over the last couple of days has seen me strengthening my impression of it, to the point where I believe it sits very comfortably between Worship... and Ceremony... and has an appeal all of it's own. Blood Ritual inhabits the space where the old becomes the new and feels a bit like Possessed's Seven Churches in that it inhabits a point of transformation that is more extreme than it's influences, but not quite extreme enough to attain the next level.

Performance-wise it is a step up from Worship Them with the less raw production also allowing for greater clarity, enabling the band members to shine. There are some cool riffs and most of the songs exhibit a degree of progression throughout their runtimes and although I wouldn't label any of the tracks as out and out classics, the likes of the standout track, After the Sepulture, along with Blood Ritual, Beyond the Nothingness and Bestial Devotion are plenty memorable and possess all the wallop I like in my metal listening.

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