Samael (band)

Last updated

Samael 2007 - Vorph.jpg
Background information
Origin Sion, Switzerland
Years active1987–present
Labels Osmose, Century Media, Nuclear Blast, Galactical, Napalm
Associated acts Alastis
Members Vorph
Past membersPat Charvet
Rodolphe H

Samael is a Swiss extreme metal band formed in 1987 in Sion, Switzerland.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Sion, Switzerland Place in Valais, Switzerland

Sion is a Swiss town, a municipality, and the capital of the canton of Valais and of the district of Sion. As of December 2017 it had a population of 34,599.


The current line up of the band include founding members and brothers Vorphalack (Vorph) and Xytraguptor (Xy), guitarist Drop and bassist Zorrac. A few other members have been part of the band throughout the years : Rodolph H. (Keyboards, 1993-1995), Kaos (Guitar 1996-2001), Mas (Bass 1991-2014), and Makro (Guitar 2002-2018).

Michael Locher Swiss musician

Michael Locher is a Swiss musician who provides vocals and is a guitarist for Swiss industrial/black metal band Samael. He co-founded the band in 1987 with his brother Alexandre Locher on drums. Michael's musical influences include Celtic Frost, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Venom, Bathory, and early Possessed. Michael particularly points to Bathory as a source of inspiration for vocals:

Quorthon from BATHORY for the vocals I think was a big influence. To me, at that time, he was probably the guy who pushed the boundaries the furthest in terms of that style of music.

Samael is known to incorporate metal, industrial, electronic and symphonic music into their sound and mix it with massive beats, martial rhythms, up-tempo or blast beat. One of the key elements that distinguishes Samael from traditional metal bands is the use of a drum machine in studio and live on stage.

A blast beat is a drum beat that originated in hardcore punk and grindcore, and is often associated with certain styles of extreme metal, namely black metal and death metal, and occasionally in deathcore and metalcore. In Adam MacGregor's definition, "the blast-beat generally comprises a repeated, sixteenth-note figure played at a very fast tempo, and divided uniformly among the bass drum, snare, and ride, crash, or hi-hat cymbal." Blast beats have been described by PopMatters contributor Whitney Strub as, "maniacal percussive explosions, less about rhythm per se than sheer sonic violence".

The 'original' or traditional blastbeat is a single-stroke roll played between your cymbal and snare, with your kick playing simultaneously with every cymbal hit.

Drum machine electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums or other percussion instruments

A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument that creates percussion. Drum machines may imitate drum kits or other percussion instruments, or produce unique sounds. Most modern drum machines allow users to program their own rhythms. Drum machines may create sounds using analog synthesis or play prerecorded samples.


Early years and two first albums 1987-1993

Although Vorphalack jammed and played with his friend Pat on drums since April 1987, it was when his brother Xytraguptor first sat behind the drums kit on 14 July 1988 that Samael really started. The two brothers soon recorded and released a 7-inch EP with two original songs "Into the Pentagram" and "The Dark" and a cover from Hellhammer "The Third of the Storm". They played a few shows in Germany, France, Switzerland and Poland before entering Taurus Studio in Geneva to record their first album. Samael became a trio when Masmiseîm joined the band as a bass player, the new formation played its first show in Poland. Worship Him (1991) become the first album released by Osmose Productions one year after being recorded. The band played a bunch of shows to promote the album including a short eastern tour with Napalm Death which ended with two shows in Moscow. Samael signed with Century Media and record their second album at T&T Studio in Gelsenkirchen with producer Waldemar Sorychta. Blood Ritual is released on 1 December 1992, a month later the band embarked on their first European Tour with label mates Unleashed and Tiamat. The 20-date tour ended in Belgium with an indoor festival with Fear Factory, Brutal Truth and Agnostic Front among other bands.

Hellhammer was a Swiss extreme metal band from Nurensdorf, active during 1981–1984. They are regarded as a key influence on black metal, In June 1984, Hellhammer disbanded and founded another highly influential band, Celtic Frost.

<i>Worship Him</i> 1991 studio album by Samael

Worship Him is the first full album from the Swiss heavy metal band Samael. Released in 1991, it was the first-ever release from Osmose Productions, an independent French metal label. Worship Him is considered a milestone in the development of second wave black metal.

Osmose Productions record label

Osmose Productions is a French independent record label created in 1991 by Hervé Herbaut, after he had spent three years running a small mail order company. They specialize mainly in death and black metal bands.

Ceremony of Opposites and Rebellion 1994-1995

Recorded and mixed in 10 days in Woodhouse Studios in Hagen (Germany) Ceremony of Opposites was produced by Waldemar Sorychta and released on 18 February 1994. The addition of keyboards in every song is accountable for the recruiting of Rodolph H who joined the band as keyboards player. A few samples could be heard throughout the album and most notably the voice of Aleister Crowley on the song "Crown" and the beginning of "The Hut on the Hen's Legs (Baba Yaga)" of the Pictures at an Exhibition from Modest Mussorgsky in "Baphomet's Throne". The crunchy and aggressive guitar sound, the keyboards orchestration, the metallic sound of the drums and over the top screaming vocal turned it into a seminal black metal album.

<i>Ceremony of Opposites</i> 1994 studio album by Samael

Ceremony of Opposites is the third album by Swiss extreme metal band Samael.

Aleister Crowley English poet, mountaineer, and occultist

Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.

<i>Pictures at an Exhibition</i> suite for piano in ten movements by Modest Mussorgsky

Pictures at an Exhibition is a suite of ten pieces composed for piano by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.

The band got invited by Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost) to play at the Lucifer Rising convention in Zurich in March before they joined the Full of Hate Festival tour headlined by Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. A video for the song "Baphomet's Throne" was shot during that tour. The tour was followed by Samael's first headliner tour in Europe with Grave, Massacra and Therion as supports. The same year the band did their first US tour: 23 dates in 23 days up and down the East Coast as support for Cannibal Corpse and continued that tour in Europe for another 41 shows.

Martin Eric Ain American-Swiss bassist

Martin Eric Ain was best known for being the former bassist of the influential extreme metal band Celtic Frost. He used the stage name Martin Eric Ain throughout his career in Celtic Frost. He died on October 21, 2017 following a heart attack. He was born in the United States and spoke English as a first language.

Celtic Frost Swiss metal band

Celtic Frost were a Swiss extreme metal band from Zürich. They are known for their strong influence on the development of extreme metal. Formed in 1981 as Hellhammer, the band became Celtic Frost in 1984 and was active until 1993. It re-formed in 2001 and disbanded following frontman Tom Gabriel Fischer's departure in 2008. The band was inspired by metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Venom as well as alternative/gothic rock groups like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Christian Death and by the hardcore punk of Discharge.

Morbid Angel American band

Morbid Angel is an American death metal band based in Tampa, Florida formed in 1983 by guitarist and sole remaining original member Trey Azagthoth, vocalist and bassist Dallas Ward, and drummer Mike Browning. Widely considered as one of the most influential bands in the genre and important in the transition of death metal from its thrash metal roots, they were one of the first bands to incorporate guttural vocals, up-tempo blast beats, multiple tempo changes and dark atmosphere. They have been described as one of "the most influential and emulated bands in death metal", alongside Obituary, Death and Cannibal Corpse, and have been cited as an influence by many later bands. They were also the first death metal band to experience mainstream success in connection with being signed to Giant Records in 1992, heavy rotation of their music videos on MTV, and having the music video for the song "God of Emptiness" shown on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. Their first four albums – Altars of Madness (1989), Blessed Are the Sick (1991), Covenant (1993) and Domination (1995) – are considered classics in the genre.

February 1995 the band was back in studio to record the Rebellion mini album. Two new tracks, two re-arranged songs and a cover version of "I Love the Dead" from Alice Cooper. "Static Journey" were the first songs Samael recorded with programmed drums. The Rebellion Tour started in Europe with Sentenced and ended with two shows in Mexico.

Passage and Exodus 1996-1998

The band decided to work with a drum machine after Rodolph left the band. Xy moved from the drums to the keyboards and programmed all the drums parts. Kaos joined the band as second guitarist and the band went back to Woodhouse Studios for a 3 weeks session. The first show with the drum machine and new line up was on 26 June in Z7 in Pratteln (Switzerland) as opener for Kreator, the following day Samael played in With Full Force festival alongside Ministry, Motörhead, and Front Line Assembly. Passage was released on 19 August 1996 and a full European tour followed with support from label mates Moonspell and Rotting Christ. A video was shot in Berlin for the song "Jupiterian Vibe" directed by Andreas Marshall.

Samael co-headlined the 1997 Full of Hate Festival tour with Obituary, Entombed, Crowbar and Strapping Young Lad completed the line up. Later on that year they took part in another tour festival across Germany alongside Kreator, Sodom, Exodus, Grip Inc. and In Flames. That summer the band played for the first and only time at Dynamo Open Air in Eindhoven as well as Wacken, Grasspop, and With Full Force festival. In the meantime Xy released on his own label a neo classical version of Passage under the name Xytras. Exodus mini album was released in April 1998, in June Samael played in Istanbul with Kreator.

Eternal, Black Trip DVD 1999-2003

In Montreux (Switzerland) at the Mountain Studios, Samael recorded their new album with rock producer David Richards. The sound and the overall production of Eternal was very much rooted in the 1970s while the approach of the songs was very contemporary. The gap between the opening song "Year Zero" and "Infra Galaxia" or between the Deep Purple sounding "Radiant Star" and the electronic stamped "Ways" is very wide. It is a real challenge to categorize that album. The band toured in Europe with Grip Inc. and Lacuna Coil before going to the US with Dimmu Borgir, Monstrosity and Epoch of Unlight. The following summer they played with Iron Maiden at Artefact Fest in France.

Early 2002 Kaos departed from the band and was replaced by Makro. With the new line-up, the band played a couple of shows before the Summer Breeze Open Air which became the core of Samael's first DVD Black Trip . In the meantime, Vorph and Xy worked on an electronic project which was released in 2006 under the name Era One. In January 2003 Samael was back on the road with Cathedral and Without Face for the Redemption Tour, the tour then went to the US with Strapping Young Lad and Cathedral as supporting acts.

Reign of Light and Solar Soul 2004-2008

Reign of Light was recorded and mixed during the summer 2004, first single "Telephath" came with a video and was released in September, the album was out in October. The band toured Europe with support acts Flowing Tears for the first part of the tour and Dagoba for the Scandinavian dates. Samael later supported Oomph! in Germany. The next year, the single "On Earth" which featured a cover of "I Feel you" from Depeche Mode was released. The band played summer festivals in Europe and Switzerland. In Paleo Festival in Nyon (Switzerland) they played before Rammstein, 4 songs of that performance ended up on a bonus DVD for a special edition of Reign of Light. In Paris, the band received an award from Hard Rock Magazine for best industrial album. After a European tour with Obituary the band finished recording their following album.

In March 2007 Samael opened for Iggy Pop in Montana (Switzerland) where they played two new songs for the first time: "On the Rise", and "Slavocracy". Solar Soul was mixed in Sweden by Stefan Glaumann and was released on the 1st of June through Nuclear Blast worldwide. In July they played with Nine Inch Nail at Rock Oz'Arenes. In March 2008 they were back on the road with Gothminister and Sybreed. During the summer Vorph and Xy went to Sweden to mix with Frederic Nordström a side project that was recorded a long time ago. In September they returned to the US with Amorphis and Virgin Black. After that tour, as the final mastering for the side project was done it was decided that it would become the next Samael album.

Above and Lux Mundi 2009-2014

Recorded in 1999, mixed in 2008, Above was released on 6 March 2009. It was described by the band as a tribute to their metal roots and they listed some of their influences on the CD booklet: Kiss, AC/DC, Venom, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Impaled Nazarene, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Bathory. Faster and more extreme than anything Samael released previously, the album surprised the critics and fans alike but it sent the band on a 90 more dates tour. First in Europe with Deicide, Vader, Devian and The Amenta, then in the US with Carcass, Suicide Silence and Psycroptic, and finally all across Europe with Paradise Lost and Ghost Brigade.

Lux Mundi was co produced by Xy and Waldemar Sorychta, it was recorded in Switzerland and mixed in England by Russ Russel. First the band released a mini album Antigod which featured two live tracks, a remix and new version of the song "Into the Pentagram" from their first album Worship Him (1991). Samael toured in Europe with Finntroll and Rotting Christ in support of that mini album. A video was shot in Sweden by Patrick Ulaeus for the song "Luxferre" (Latin for "light carrier"). On 29 April 2011 Lux Mundi was released. The band later toured in Europe with Keep of Kalessin and Melechesh.

Xy was asked by the city of Sion (Switzerland) to compose a piece of music for a sound and light show to be played in two consecutive summers. Recorded in Prague with 100 classical musicians that piece of music was released on CD under the name Sedunum. In 2013, Samael played the album Passage in its entirety at Inferno Festival Switzerland and at Metal Hammer Paradise in Germany. Bass player and long time Samael member Mas left the band in November 2014, he was replaced by Drop (ex-Sybreed).

Return to the past Ceremony of Opposites, W.A.R. 2015-2017

20 years after it was first released, Samael celebrated their album Ceremony of Opposites (1994) by playing the entire album live over 40 times in festivals in Europe and US and with short tours in Canada, Russia and Poland. The fact that the album was performed with a drum machine instead of real drums like it was on the original recording created a polemic within the older fans of the band.

In May 2017 the member of Samael launched a side project W.A.R. (Worship and Ritual), in order to perform their first two, more primitive black metal albums, live. In this group, the original members adopted their old stage names (Vorphalack and Xytraguptor) and Xy returned to playing drums. The first W.A.R. concerts happened in Les Caves du Manoir in Martigny (Switzerland) were the band performed for two consecutive nights.

Hegemony (2017-present)

The new album Hegemony was released on 13 October 2017. Before hand the band released lyrics video for the songs "Angel of Wrath" and "Red Planet", and a video for "Black Supremacy". In early 2018, a video with live footage was released for Rite of Renewal.



Current members
Former members


Samael (band)



TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsSales
Worship Him
  • Released: April 1, 1991
  • Label: Osmose Productions
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS, digital download
Blood Ritual
  • Released: December 1, 1992
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS, digital download [4]
Ceremony of Opposites
  • Released: February 18, 1994
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS, digital download [5]
  • US: 13,581+ [6]
  • Released: September 19, 1996
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS, digital download [7]
  • US: 11,788+ [6]
  • Released: July 19, 1999
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS, digital download [8]
Reign of Light
  • Released: October 11, 2004
  • Label: Galactical, Regain Records
  • Formats: CD, CD+DVD, CS, LP, digital download [9]
Solar Soul
  • Released: June 1, 2007
  • Label: Galactical, Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [10]
  • Released: March 6, 2009
  • Label: Galactical, Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [11]
Lux Mundi
  • Released: April 29, 2011
  • Label: Galactical, Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download [12]
  • Released: October 13, 2017
  • Label: Napalm Records
  • Formats: CD, LP, digital download
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

TitleAlbum details
Recordings '88 - '89
  • Released: 1989
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: CS
  • Released: November 28, 1994
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD
Since the Creation...
  • Released: December 8, 2003
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: LP (BOX)
Aeonics - An Anthology
  • Released: February 26, 2007
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD
Medieval Prophecy
  • Released: October 28, 2008
  • Label: Necrosound Records
  • Formats: CD
A Decade in Hell
  • Released: November 22, 2010
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD (BOX)


TitleAlbum details
  • Released: May 23, 1995
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: June 2, 1998
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: September 27, 2004
  • Label: Galactical
  • Formats: CD
On Earth
  • Released: June 13, 2005
  • Label: Galactical
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: November 19, 2010
  • Label: Nuclear Blast
  • Formats: CD, digital download [13]


TitleAlbum details
Black Trip
  • Released: June 17, 2003
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: DVD

Other affiliated releases

TitleAlbum details
Xytras Passage
  • Released: -
  • Label: Parallel Union Records
  • Formats: CD
Era One
  • Released: January 27, 2006
  • Label: Century Media Records
  • Formats: CD, digital download [14]
Medieval Prophecy
  • Released: December 1988
  • Label: Necrosound
  • Formats: EP
  • Released: July 11, 2014
  • Label: Galactical/Kronos
  • Formats: CD

Music videos

1994"Baphomet's Throne"Tamara Jordan [15] Ceremony Of Opposites
1996"Jupiterian Vibe"Andreas Marshall [15] Passage
"Rain"Ronald Matthes [15]
1999"Infra Galaxia"Rodrigue Pellaud and Samael [15] Eternal
Reign Of Light
2007"Slavocracy" [16]
Solar Soul
2009"Black Hole"Sergeï Ulyanov [17] Above
2011"Luxferre" [17] Patric UllaeusLux Mundi
2017"Black Supremacy" [18] Marki Ghosteaser and MK [19] Hegemony

Related Research Articles

Vinnie Moore American guitarist and member of the band UFO

Vincent "Vinnie" Moore is an American guitarist and a member of the British hard rock band UFO. Moore is one of the most influential and important guitarists to emerge from the virtuoso boom in the mid to late eighties.

Virgin Black Australian band

Virgin Black is an Australian heavy metal band. Signed to The End Records and Germany's Massacre Records, the band has released 4 albums and 1 EP. Formed in 1995 in Adelaide, they have achieved international acclaim during their career, receiving praise from such magazines as Orkus, Metal Hammer, Legacy and The Village Voice.

<i>Reign of Light</i> 2004 studio album by Samael

Reign of Light is the sixth album by Swiss industrial metal band Samael, released in October 2004 by Galactical.

Grip Inc. was a groove metal band and side project of drummer Dave Lombardo. The band was formed in 1993, and was signed to SPV Records.

<i>Eternal</i> (Samael album) 1999 studio album by Samael

Eternal is the fifth album by the Swiss heavy metal band Samael, released on 19 July 1999 via Century Media.

Alastis band

Alastis was a Swiss gothic black metal band formed in 1987 in Sion, Valais.

Crucified Barbara band

Crucified Barbara was an all-female Swedish hard rock and heavy metal band, formed in Stockholm in 1998.

<i>Exodus</i> (Samael album) 1998 EP by Samael

Exodus is an EP by Swiss heavy metal band Samael, released on 20 April 1998 through Century Media. The contents of the release were later included as bonus tracks on the 2007 re-release of Passage.

Belphegor (band) Austrian death metal band

Belphegor is an Austrian extreme metal band from Salzburg. They originally formed in 1991 under the name Betrayer before changing their name in 1993. They are named after the demon Belphegor.

<i>Passage</i> (Samael album) 1996 studio album by Samael

Passage is the fourth album by Swiss industrial metal band Samael, released on 19 August 1996 through Century Media.

<i>Down</i> (Sentenced album) 1996 studio album by Sentenced

Down, released in November 1996 on Century Media records, is the fourth album by Sentenced. It is also the first album including the vocalist Ville Laihiala. This album is the band's first pure gothic metal album.

<i>Solar Soul</i> 2007 studio album by Samael

Solar Soul is the seventh album by the Swiss heavy metal band Samael, released on 1 June 2007 through Nuclear Blast.

<i>Above</i> (Samael album) 2009 studio album by Samael

Above is the eighth studio album from the heavy metal band Samael, released on 6 March 2009 by Nuclear Blast.

Tahuna Breaks was a band from New Zealand that formed in Auckland in January 2005. The band was named after Tahuna Street where they had their first jam. Their musical style incorporated elements of reggae, soul and electro funk music.

ReVamp Dutch band

ReVamp was a Dutch progressive metal band formed by singer-songwriter Floor Jansen after her previous band After Forever disbanded in 2009.

<i>Lux Mundi</i> (album) 2011 studio album by Samael

Lux Mundi is the ninth studio album from the heavy metal band Samael, released on 29 April 2011 through Nuclear Blast. The Latin words Lux Mundi translate as "Light of the World".

<i>Hegemony</i> (album) 2017 studio album by Samael

Hegemony is the tenth studio album from Swiss industrial metal band Samael.


  6. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 13, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. 1 2 3 4
  17. 1 2