I’ve been a Samael fan for a long time. Anyone who remembers “Jupiterian Vibe” or their early black metal material knows what I’m talking about. Obviously, the band have made some major changes to their sound, which solidified with Reign Of Light back in 04. While I can say that I enjoyed the techno-dance nature of that disc, it was a bold departure from their synth black stylings explored within the mid-era. We eventually received Solar Soul, which is important to this review as the band’s latest album almost feels like a sister album to it. I’ve noticed several commonalities between Hegemony and Solar Soul that they almost feel like mirror images. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but seems to depart from the more black/industrial nature of Lux Mundi as it attempts to repave what fans already felt was a great album. You’ll notice instantly that Hegemony sounds like a Samael album, which is not necessarily the greatest thing in my opinion.
At this point, I can literally narrow it down. Hegemony is full of militaristic marches, hefty synths, slight bits of industrial and uplifting vocal sentiments that feel like they’re being shouted out of a megaphone in protest. It is an album for the protest generation and I find the majority of these messages to be rather optimistic and humanist, despite the black-metal influenced atmosphere that embodies them. The record actually encourages non-violence, which is the furthest thing you’d expect from black metal, but the times are certainly changing as Bob Dylan once sang. I’m actually quite surprised that a cover of said song didn’t appear on the disc. The performance comes off as a loud, bleating march against tyranny of all sorts, making for a stronger message within the lyrical embodiment than it does musically. That being said, the album does manage to veer off into a few black metal sections as to not completely drown us in synth/industrial, but it is certainly no return to the days of Worship Him.
The record strongly follows in the same philosophical tone as nearly all of the recent discs that have come before it, but seems a bit too much of the same for me to really consider a standout in their discography. It largely feels like a solid drop in the bucket that I am sure fans will be pleased with, but it does little for a man who is beginning to feel that he’s heard all that these gentlemen are capable of doing in their thirty-year career. As an aside, there’s a single here called “Black Supremacy” which might come off the wrong way to people not familiar with the band. From the lyrics, I observed that it is about a sort of dark supremacy (I personally feel that “Dark Supremacy” would have been a much better title) among fans of heavy metal and darker cultures, though I don’t think it is one I would want to play around certain groups of people. Especially when the words “Black Supremacy!” are screamed rather loudly in the mix to the point where practically anyone with a working set of ear-drums would be able to catch them. I honestly don’t know what they were thinking with that one and considering the politically charged times, I’d be a bit careful where you give it a listen. This warning may even sound silly, but recent events are proof positive that we live in a rather unstable world. On that note, it is safe to say that Hegemony is largely political and probably not recommended for all ears; but if you’re looking for a mixture of black metal with slices of industrial fuzz and lyrics shouted in the vein of a protest, then I think I might have just the record for you.