Swiss experimental metal band Samael released their latest album some time ago. It’s called Lux Mundi and it’s a very solid and thoroughly enjoyable record. I had the change of doing an interview with Xy, the band’s drummer/percussionist. We had a friendly chat about the new album, Samael’s collective desire to push the creative envelope and conservatism within the metal scene..
Thank you for doing this interview. Your latest album, entitled Lux Mundi, is met with (very) favorable reviews. What were your own initial expectations on how the album would be received and what are your own feelings towards your latest offering?
When we started working on Lux Mundi we had in mind to create an album which would be more oriented on guitar and orchestration and I think some song ended up being among the most powerful ones we did so far. With the time, we try to avoid having too much expectations but I wouldn’t deny it’s always rewarding to hear some people being pleased with the result.
Your last album, Above, was a pretty extreme and guitar orientated affair, while Lux Mundi keeps the middle ground between your older material and the experimental/industrial edge of Passage. What’s your own take on this?
I agree with that. Above was more an experiment, something we wanted or needed to do. When we released it, we had already started the writing process of Lux Mundi and we knew the direction we wanted to take afterwards would somehow be closer to the era of Passage.
One of the things I like about Samael is the fact that you dare to push the creative envelope on each subsequent release. How important is for you guys to experiment and explore new musical horizons?
It was important since we’ve started. It’s maybe a way to keep things fresh and exciting for us and for the listeners. But I personally feel that Lux Mundi was more a quest for the roots and the essence of Samaël and there may be a bit less experimentation this time.
Another thing I like about your music is your ability to write compact and memorable songs and combining that with a very dark atmosphere. How do you manage to do that? What’s your secret?
I know we have spent much time on the writing process and we always try to improve each song as much as we can until we reach the mixing process. We’re first making some draft, then we record for each song a demo/pre production version and we start all over again for the final recording. This allows us to experiment and modify things at each stage of this writing process.
Many metal fans are fairly conservative when it comes to musicians and bands who aren’t afraid to experiment and they’re not necessarely appreciative of it. What are your views on this and what experiences do you have with this phenomenon?
It’s probably harder to keep people interested in what you’re doing as a band if you’re changing too much but you also have to do something you feel. We certainly didn’t took the easier path but I don’t regret anything. It’s also nice to have a wider selection while performing live.
This time around you worked with famed producer Russ Russell. How was it like to work with him and what did he bring the table?
We only worked with him in the mix but he still brought some ideas. He was recommended to us and we had a good feeling from the beginning. I think he’s been able to capture the sound we needed at that time and I could only say good thing about him.
Some members of Samael know how to produce a record, so what’s the added value of bringing in an external producer like Russ Russell?
It’s always good to have an external opinion on your music. We did a pre-production for this album with Waldemar Sorychta with whom we’ve been working on the past. It’s always an easy process and I feel we have a common vision on what the final result should sounds like.
The musical landscape has changed dramatically since the days you guys started 20 years ago. What are the most profound changes for you and how do you cope with these developments?
There are quite a lot of things. Definitely a lot more band and the whole industry has changed due to Internet. I’m quite curious on how things will develop from now on. It seems that the live environment will take a bigger part for bands in general. All in all I found really positive that the metal scene in general has grown that much.
Perhaps an awkward question, but especially your more industrial based material would be great for remixing by external producers and artists. Arcturus did something similar with their Disguised Masters album. What are your thoughts on that?
I did some remixes of our own songs in the past and I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty exciting to be able to give a different perspective on a song, experiment with a certain part and so forth. It would certainly be interesting to work on a full album.
Time for the final question. What is the biggest Spinal Tap moment of your carreer?
Well we had a few. I remember back in ’94, we really got lost for a while in a venue in Cleveland…
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