Interview with Swiss Black Metal Pioneers SAMAEL!

Innovation is a key word when it comes to Swiss black metal pioneers SAMAEL! Formed in 1987, they are one of the most forward-thinking, outstanding and distinctive metal bands on the modern metal stage.

Thirty years of the band’s history flows into their brilliant eleventh record, combining everything that SAMAEL have learned the hard way spanning three decades of their decadence.

Welcome back SAMAEL and their 30th anniversary with “Hegemony”! It is the band’s first full-length since their 2011 album “Lux Mundi”, and the first to include new bassist Thomas Betrisey, replacing Christophe Mermod.

Today we’d like to bring to your attention this interview with black metal masters S A M A E L! The following interview is taken exclusively for Rock Arena. Enjoy it! 


– Hello, Guys and welcome to Rock Arena! How are you feeling today? 30 years into the band’s career, 11 albums, and many live shows… What’s changed during all those years for SAMAEL?

SAMAEL: We feel great and we really enjoy playing together! It might have been 30 years already but we’re still angry and still want to share music with the world. We had a few lineup changes along the way but we never sounded as good as today so it was always for the best. Our focus has always been and still is on the future we don’t look too much in the past, we know what we’ve done and where we’re coming from but what matters to us the most is now.

– Vorph, you’ve been a member of SAMAEL since the start in 1987… What does it take to keep the band extremity alive during all those years of Metal Glory?

Michael “Vorph” Locher: Our passion for music and our need to create new songs is probably what has kept us alive as a band and as a human being. I first started to play with a friend of mine but it is when we started to play together with Xy that things got serious. We both wanted to dedicate our life to music and it seemed natural for us to do it together.











– How does the professional production reinforce the band’s sound and how much does that factor add to the wanted final creation? How do you write your songs as a band?

SAMAEL: Generally once the song starts to take shape, we have a pretty clear idea of what we want. Most of the time Xy finish a song then I write the lyrics and find my vocals lines. Later we check that together with the other members of the band and see what could be changed to achieve a better result. We never really know where the inspiration comes from, it can be anything that sparks an idea, the rest is just working.

– The band’s latest highly awaited album, “Hegemony” is a great selection of quality songs and a unique sound…Who writes the music and the lyrics, who’s the producer? How essential has it been to record the album from the hands of Napalm Records?

SAMAEL: Since our album “Ceremony of Opposites” we always work the same way, Xy create all the music and I write the lyrics. We’ve always worked with the same producer Waldemar Sorychta and he literally becomes the fifth member of the band. We recorded the album here in Switzerland part of it in Xy’s home studio part of it in a professional studio. We later mixed the album in Sweden with Stefan Glaumann. Only when everything was finished did we start to look for a record company to release the album. Napalm Records were interested in the band for a long time so it was natural to finally do this together.

– What is the main difference between “Hegemony” and the previous SAMAEL albums? How do you feel the band’s musical approach has evolved over the years?

Michael “Vorph” Locher: I see “Hegemony” as the next step in the band history. We’ve tried to make a ground for the band with “Lux Mundi” and we pretty much built the new album upon that base. I guess we found our sound between the album “Ceremony of Opposites” and “Passage” where we included keyboards as a permanent instrument in our music and where we started using programmed drums. Since those two albums, we mainly develop our sound and experiment a bit along the way.

– SAMAEL started as an old-school Black Metal band, but have moved to Industrial Dark Metal… How do you feel about merging Metal with other styles? Do you work on some other projects?

Michael “Vorph” Locher: As a musician, I feel it is important not to limit oneself. We never forced something, it always felt natural. Industrial music isn’t so far from Metal and we thought they’ll mix well together. We also incorporate other elements like oriental scales and even oriental sounds, that was done before but we felt it fitted our sound. We did a side project of electronic music with Xy a few years ago and everybody in the band is also composing music for other projects.

– What’s the best part of music making process to you? Is it the songwriting, recording songs and videos, playing live shows? Would you be your own producer one day?

Michael “Vorph” Locher: I like every part of the process, studio and live are two very different things tho. In the studio we spend lots of time discussing the thing, redoing it and thinking about every detail. In a live environment, we don’t think anymore, it is instinctive and sometimes very primitive.

We actually did produce a couple of our albums “Eternal” or “Above” and Xy produced a few other bands but I believe it is important to have an outside ear that could point certain weakness in the music that we might not hear because we’re too much involved in it.









– How do you think the Metal scene has changed?What’s difficult about being in a band these days, is it the touring, creating music or…?

SAMAEL: The Metal scene is in constant evolution and that a good thing, it proves the scene is alive and well. We belong to bands that started before the internet time and we’ve seen all the changes it made on the music scene in general. Today more people have access to more music which is also a good thing but it is harder to be original as there many bands that experiment with their music nowadays. As there are more tours the competition is harder too but we’re not complaining as we can still do what we love for a living.

– What are you fighting for with your Music?

SAMAEL: Freedom. Freedom from the dictates of religion in the first place but also the freedom of the people to be who they want to be, the way they want to live and to die.

– When can we hear SAMAEL live in the UK? Where can everyone get your music?

SAMAEL: We already confirmed Wacken Open Air but there’s a few more to come, it would be great to come to the UK but I haven’t seen it on our schedule so far. You can get our music from the shops that are still selling CD’s or from Napalm Records mail order or you can check it on Spotify.

 – Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview! Few words about the finale…?

SAMAEL: Enjoy yourself and check our new album „Hegemony“!

More information at:

Interviewed by Toni Rock