HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Samael - Reign Of Light
(Nuclear Blast)

Always with the disco metal, grumblers say. And yes, this elusive, illusory collective (Kovenant, Satyricon, Sentenced, Amorphis, Nile, Lake Of Tears - wherever the heck ARE they most of the time?!) do play a sort of clubby, mechanistic, Rammstein-angular, er, disco metal, but they're weirdly smart and evil about it. Or maybe that's me just remembering what a darkened scourge metal blight this Swiss collective once were. But no, I was hooked in for embarrassingly repeated plays of Passage ('96) and Eternal ('99) as well, and those were the transitional records, Xy and Vorph already uttering veiled threats at low registers over new-fangled techno beats - and it sounded great. Reign Of Light is more of the same, and I'm still somewhat seduced by the idea of these (may as well be) ITALIANS up to such chain-jangling blasphemy. Fact is, these songs groove, not without churning power chords, not without hooks everywhere. Easy to under-estimate these guys; not I, especially after seeing the warped wonder of their vision in a live setting.
Rating 7

The Apocalyptic Riders - Samurai
(Nuclear Blast)

Ten years in and a half dozen releases later, The Apocalyptic Riders continue to confound. As is increasingly typical of German acts, giddy confusion reigns, these guys sounding like a cross between Dark Tranquillity and The Wildhearts, with a little Hellacopters and Rammstein thrown in for weird measure. To sum it up, this rides a frantic, frothy, creative wave reminiscent of Faith No More, or closer to home, Disillusion. Half in German, half in English, Samurai keeps you guessing through a kaleidoscope of beer-foisting metal styles, also skirting pop, punk, Fintroll and Fu Manchu. Choice riffs: Per Aspera A Ad Astra and most notably, Rock 'n' Roll, which is what I wish QOTSA were doing instead of wilting.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 4