Live at The House of Blues, Hollywood, CA 10/13/2008

Review by Travis Baumann

Samael have been on the list of my top favorite bands for quite some time now. I was particularly drawn to the sound they had evolved into with the release of "Reign of Light".

While I do appreciate their sound from albums earlier like "Eternal" it was with "Reign of Light" and the subsequent "Solar Soul" that all the elements clicked into a sound as well as mentality that set them apart from all of their peers.

I attribute this difference most noticeably to the large amount of atmospheric as well as structural electronics and synths that are then layered with aggressive guitars.

The second big difference is the lyrical material is very uplifting almost spirtual as opposed to destructive or anti-religious. Vorph's voice maintains an aggressive edge but has a unique sound and on some songs he sings in a more deep, gothic vein but still retaining his snarl.

In the newer works there appear many Eastern sounds as well as ideas and I also appreciate their abilities to do things out of the norm even by the newer standards they have set with albums such as "Era One/Lessons In Magick" which has no guitars at all and a much more mellow delivery of vocals but is extremely well put together and falls more into the Industrial, Gothic, Electro and Darkwave genres which I also love.

After years of anticipating seeing them live and having mourned over missing them once in Europe, I finally was going to get to see them live.

Well this tour was already off to a bit of a rough start with Leave's Eyes bailing off the line-up which I was very bummed about but I thought that would only leave more time for Samael.

Of course when you set something up on a pedestal there is always that possibility that it will be a giant let-down. I had missed the first band, Black Chapel althogether but did catch Virgin Black which I really enjoyed.

I then got excited for soon Samael would be on. Unfortunately the time just kept ticking away. I turned to my friend and said, "They should be playing already" having consulted the box-office over set-times.

I went over to peak around the screen lowered in front of the stage and could see Xy and two roadies fighting with a piece of equipment, their expressions not good. More time went on .

Finally the screen goes up, Vorph comes out and says "We will play very short this time, a piece of gear blew out." Groans, mine included, issued forth.

Samael broke into a really old song that was super fast and heavy with guitar. I did not recognize it but my friend did immediately and was glad they did that one off of "Rites of Passage". Samael proceded to do three additional songs, all of them from the first couple of albums they put out years ago and then left the stage.

I was super bummed. I did not recognize a single song. They did nothing from "Reign of Light", "Solar Soul", "Era One", or "Eternal" which are all my favorites in that order.

In terms of the band, they all sounded really good. Vorph wore a really cool black and red outfit that was something between a martial arts uniform and a dark priest's robe. He had his blond hair pulled back into a bun and his short facial hair manicured into a wizard-like visage. He played guitar for two or three out of the four songs but handed it off to jump around and sing on the last song.

Xy was in the center directly behind Vorph, his head shaved smooth. He had a dual rack of synths, a bunch of electronic gear and some drums and symbols attached to the stands. He would mostly play the synths but for one song picked up sticks and would leap into the air and come down hard on the drums and symbols.

They also brought along a guitarist and bassist who played off to the sides of the main duo. They definitely had a strong, powerful sound but the set was over so quickly and unfortunately they just never got to do any of the newer material which I was so looking forward to.

I know technicalities do happen and it was no one's fault but it really was a disappointment. I saw a lot of people there with Samael shirts on and they all felt as disappointed as I. Vorph left the stage saying "We're very sorry, you will have to come see us next time..." . When is that going to be?

Luckily for all of us, Amorphis was really awesome. Even though I like Samael a lot better, I still enjoyed the show overall and Amorphis really won me over.  

As far as Samael goes, I hope they do come back soon and do a full show with lots of the newer material, but only time will tell. I know they were down to maybe five shows left of this tour, I hope for those last few they got their gear working again.

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