“Aeonics is change, opposition, creation, provoking challenges and insight, counting-balancing and adversarial,” states the insert.” Aeonics is one of the better titles given to an anthology. Switzerland’s SAMAEL celebrates their 2 decade career with a mammoth 19 tracks over 79 minutes, a development of gloom and self-discovery accompanied by plenty anecdotes on the inner sleeve.
I’d heard the odd track over the years and mistakenly thought them German, so thick and guttural they are. Instead, they’re an intelligent animal of English, a foundation upon which metal, goth and electro is layered to interesting effect. Their early work tries too hard for menace but ‘Into the Pentagram’s slow drums and emphasized vocals rise above that, making it a first, Nineties highlight. Tracks from Passage show burgeoning power that is fully realised in the follow-up, 1999’s dramatic Eternal, the contrasts between verse and chorus making ‘Together’ my favourite here. The pace of ‘Telepath’ excites and the deliberate beat and uptone of ‘On Earth’ makes for head nods and power marches.
SAMAEL may not be master musicians but lyric strength grew over time, questioning in interesting directions whilst the music, always an ambience of some sort, moved from a brooding beginning to a classical present. It’s about love and dissolution, joy and pain, emotions that don’t conflict but instead find balance even though the contrasting tools are the likes of Shiva, Baphomet, the koran and the bible.