SAMAEL - Blood Ritual (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 1992)
“Ceremony of Opposites” will always be my personal number one in Samael discography, but the two previous albums – “Worship Him” and “Blood Ritual” – are also damn close to perfection and I love them almost as much as I love “Ceremony…”. But then if I was going to choose between “Worship Him” and “Blood Ritual” then I never know, which of these two albums I like more. Each has something special and each delivers such a stunning piece of doomy black metal… damn, they’re just classic releases and an important records in the history of black metal.
“Blood Ritual” is pretty much a continuation of “Worship Him”, speaking of the style of music that Samael was performing. But it shows a great progression in songwriting skills, as surely an album number two has some better written songs, there are better ideas, great arrangements and absolutely essential, killer riffs and more so, it sounds more powerful. “Blood Ritual” is sometimes also a bit more harmonious, is easier to listen to, which may be surprising to some… and that probably comes mainly because the production of “Blood…” is not as raw and obscure as the debut’s. Maybe that’s actually something what I personally prefer on the first album – that harshness and cruel sound of slow paced black metal and that it was bringing along an utterly dark, morbid, evil aura that freeze blood every time you hear it. All this is slightly missing on “Blood Ritual”. Or let’s put it this way – better production and slightly more accessible playing here and there has removed a little of the obscurity and evilness from Samael. Of course “Blood Ritual” is still a satanic doomy black metal album. And it still fuckin kicks ass, because as I mentioned they swapped the harshness for absolutely fantastic amazing riffs and killer songwriting. There are so many memorable, unforgettable riffs and songs here, many more than on the debut record!! Starting with “Beyond Nothingness” – damn, what a fine and crushing song this is! But later you have “After the Sepulture”, which is maybe even my favourite Samael tune ever! It’s so damn powerful, heavy, dark and incredibly gloomy song, you must love it. “With the Gleam of the Torches” is another my personal favourite here. And even if the whole album is rather slow and the tempo hardly ever changes (the title track is the only faster piece here), it has absolutely no trace of monotony and boredom, all because the song structures are varied and so much is going in each track, there are so many ideas and brilliant arrangements that it’s enough to keep you focused. Such “Macabre Operetta” is seven minutes long, with very short lyrics and short vocals parts, but the playing is great and actually a lot like on the debut album.
I need to mention also the subtle use of some keyboards or acoustics, especially in songs like “Since the Creation” and more so in the excellent, kind of ritualistic, “Total Consecration”. They probably show a growing interest of Xytras in playing keyboards, something what they’ll exceed on “Ceremony of Opposites” and later albums even more. Anyways, what they’ve done with them here should not disturb those fans, who don’t like to hear keyboards in metal music. And if it does anyway, then who cares really?
Standout tracks: “Beyond Nothingness”, “After the Sepulture”, “With the Gleam of the Torches”, “Total Consecration”
Final rate: 85/100