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Decisively leaning towards the black metal roots of their early endeavors, Swiss metal veterans Samael return with a pummeling 11-track offering entitled ABOVE. Toning down the industrial elements commandeering the band's more recent discs (although a protruding electronic drum trigger is seamlessly inescapable) while amping up the vitriolic black metal velocity to previously unheard levels ("God Snake", "Virtual War"), Samael's brazen assault is adorned with layers of symphonic keyboards and bludgeoning tremolo guitars ("Illumination") fortifying a listening experience laden in scorn. Realizing their sojourn back to the glories of their early days while carrying over a handful of the strongest nuances from their latter-day releases for a modern twist on old themes ("On the Top of it All"), by manipulating metal's darker side and embracing their past, Samael snaps back to a furious form that leads the quartet back into the depths of the abyss.
- Mike SOS