Dark Ripples in Time – Black Metal Moments from the Past is a new CVLT Nation series featuring interviews from the ’90s, never before published on the web until now.
An Interview with Samael
Beneath the majestic blue mountains of Switzerland, a dark, sepulchral force has risen to usurp the obsidian throne of Black Metal. Samael are four talented musicians who have metamorphosed a dead genre into a wondrous, ebony winged entity howling with haunting, harmonious fury. And, this combination of occult barbarism and medieval sorcery may be the magick might that makes Samael one of the best and most bestial Black Metal acts of the 90’s.
Since their heretical gestation in 1987, the group has birthed a nightmare trinity of blasphemous sound consisting of the serpentine hiss of Worship Him in 1990, the sanguine stained alter of Blood Ritual in 1992, and 1994’s mesmerizing incantation, Ceremony of Opposites. Now, a limited edition digipak of Rebellion has been uncaged (containing a truly gangrenous rendition of Alice Cooper’s “I Love the Dead”) to feed the ravenous horde until the fourth release due out early next year.
This midnight covenant is composed of Vorphalack on vocals and guitar, Masmiseim on bass, Xytras on drums, and sample master Rodolphe on keyboards. While it may be bitterly true that Samael is an affirmation of devout, unholy faith it has become their inquisitional campaign to expose the unworthy masses to an insidiously, intricate metal webbed in black gossamer ambient brilliance- a heavy atmospheric sound that transcends the limiting, nihilistic genre of Death Metal. Samael have also managed to entwine intelligent, thought provoking lyrics, however macabre and moribund they may be, with their orchestra of necromanic screams.
But the true test will come with merciless time as the band begins to work on their fourth black masterpiece. Waiting to record Samael’s bassist, Masmiseim, spends his days at his village home and speaks softly of his genuine fondness for the dark. Unlike others who pretend to profess affection for evil, Masmiseim has no desire to hide his convictions in false pretentiousness. In a friendly tone, he explains his beliefs and visions, as well as those of his fellow Samael cult members.
What is the origination of the band’s name?
The meaning is the spirit of the band; what we think all together. Samael is the male part of Lucifer. While Lilith is the female part. This concept comes from Europe and Luciferion
churches. Not especially from the occult; there is no kind of black bible. It is more like a group of people that chooses to follow the dark side other than the Roman Catholic Church.
Do you believe in the existence of God or the Devil?
What we think about God or Lucifer is more of a visual concept. If you look at the Bible and take a concrete thing like Adam and Eve- I take it as an image. I don’t believe that God created the world in seven days. I take the Bible more as a philosophy thought I don’t agree with a lot of things in it. But with every kind of religion, it is a way to make people believe all together. I don’t agree to follow religion like a sheep. That is the reason why I am more interested in Luciferion thought. It is something more free, without devotion.
Are Samael devil worshippers?
No, I do not think we are. If I translate worship from the French it becomes adoration- to adore. That is one of my big problems with the Church- when you arrive in Heaven, you have God waiting to judge you. In my reality, you live alone and then die. I got a big fright when I was growing up because I had two educations- a Protestant one and a Catholic one. I had to go to two churches. But it was not as bad as the pestilence of TV evangelism that you have in America. Anyway, when you are young and read, no matter what, it goes in your brain. You have no one to trust but yourself. For me, that is what Luciferion thought is about- “to worship yourself”. You are your own god and you make your own choices. You live and then, when you die, I don’t think you will find God waiting for you behind a door. That is something I don’t trust. It could be possible but I would never force people to believe the same way as I do. I do not think that following something is a good life. That is not part of my psyche. I almost never go out of my place. I live with almost nothing. That is perfect for me. I have a computer and a temple. But not a lot of money. When I was working I bought a lot of things. But I can almost not be part of the world because I do not think that it is life to work all the time. To work and only get off a few weeks out of the year is not a life. I got my own apartment that I bought myself. When I go out at night I may drink three or four glasses of red wine but that is all. It is not comfortable but if I really need something then I will work. I do not have a car, just a bicycle. I live between big mountains in a village. There is a big cave where we make wine. The city is around ten kilometers away. Vorph and Xy live there so I must go to the city to practice.
What about the idea that a greater force is responsible for the creation of the universe?
That is a big problem for me. I believe more in occult concepts. I don’t believe in some kind of mythological god. I believe more in nature. But it is pretty hard to explain this in English. There are good forces and bad forces. This is more like the way I think. But what you think is good and what you think is bad depends on your own point of view. I think you have to look around. I don’t think there is any one road. You don’t have to follow anything. There is only to live and die after.
Some might say that Samael is evil with regard to the concepts the band represents and the content of the lyrics.
Yes, we can say that it is evil. We share the dark force all together. I like the word “evil”. I know exactly what it means in French but if I translate it then it changes.
Has anything bad ever happened to Samael because of your fondness for dark forces?
We try and say to ourselves that it is not possible or we would get too much paranoia. But the last time we were on tour in the States it was hell. We had a lot of problems with the camper and traveling. Even Cannibal Corpse who we were on tour with say they got problems from us. I don’t want to talk a lot about it. We got a bad feeling that it is not possible that that much bad luck happen to us.
Why would you chose to side with evil?
Because it is more attractive to me. There is something more to me. It makes me feel good. I am not depressed all the time or anything like that. I just trust more in feeling hate
So would you say that you hate more people than you love?
No, definitely not. I love more people than I hate. I just hate people in general. I hate the masses. But when I know people personally there is always something interesting in even the most stupid person. I trust more in hate because it is a way to progress. Every step I make in real life is taken more through hate than love. It is a kind of evolution. It is different than just hating everybody- that is not what I am speaking about. I trust more the feeling of hate. I can work with that feeling and still be friendly to the people around me.
Tell me about the concept behind Ceremony of Opposites?
That there is two sides to the world with everything. For example, there are two points of view about sickness. Look at birth- too many people are having babies. I don’t think it is good for evolution. It will just make the Armageddon arrive sooner. The song “Son of the Earth” is about this. One child should be enough for a family. I think I will go to the hospital one day and have an operation so that I can not have children.
Tell me about the song “Bahomet’s Throne”.
It is more of a glory feeling. The song is talking about glory. Like the coming of a black Messiah- something more evil. I don’t wish for a good one because he already came and look at all the shit that happened. Let’s try the bad one and see what happens. It will be an end, anyway. For this kind of life as we know it. Maybe I will die before this happens even if I live very long. Humanity has to disappear. People have to die before something better can come. I trust the nature of the world. But when I attempt to explain this it sounds like hippie bullshit. And I hate hippies. When you look at history, there have always been lots of little Armageddons. When the end of a thousand years approaches, people get afraid. A thousand years ago in Europe the Church was getting very rich at that time. I think that is happening again. The next Armageddon will be with a lot of death. When you have too many people and not enough food and water, nature has to protect itself. More sickness begins to appear, like AIDS. People are having too many babies. For example- some countries only allow couples to have one child. If the family has more than one then the baby is put to death. But in other parts of the world, a family might have seven children just because they love babies and want to have them. I think overpopulation will lead to Armageddon.
Who are some of the band’s influences?
In the beginning there was Celtic Frost. That is the band that we all liked together. Also Bathory. That band was pretty major. Also some gothic stuff or Darkwave, like The Fields of the Nephelim. The feeling that this type of music creates touches me. Now we are getting into Ambient and Techno. All my friends were into it so I had no choice. For two years I really hated it but I have started to be more pragmatic and I can appreciate it. Lately, I have been listening to Meat Beat Manifesto. Not every song but one or two there is something with the voice. I also like Orbital and Prodigy. There is a band here in Europe called Peace, Love, and Pitbull that mixes Techno with Death Metal that I like quite a bit. So I like a lot of different types of music.