The Samans- Lionheart (2013)
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
The Samans is a fascinating band from Changchun in China, which has released four varied EPs so far. The band started as an industrial metal act with some electronic music, gothic rock, and Neue Deutsche Härte influences on Weltreich that could have been released by bands such as Crematory or Gothminister. Their next EP entitledKhan sounded like a mixture of melodic death metal and folk metal somewhere between Alestorm and Children Of Bodom. The third EP,Whalesong, had a more commercial touch, but united the two genres of folk and melodic death metal even better, and sounded a lot like Turisas and Eluveitie at the time. Their most recent output has the beautiful title Lionheart, and was published without any big announcements at the very end of last year. In a certain way, the band’s fourth release is a mixture of the previous three records, but also offers some new tendencies.
This release features ten short songs with a running time of slightly under thirty minutes, including a lot of transitional instrumental passages, and tracks just like their previous release. These homogenous and fluid songs feature more cinematic sounds than ever before. The symphonic elements have become at least as important as the folk passages driven by accordions, tin whistles, and different percussion samples. I would even say that this atmospheric fusion of both genres has become more present than the metal elements in the sound. As a result, it is now the band’s strongest weapon.
The harsh vocals, the simple guitar riffs, and the average rhythm section are less impressive and poignant than usual. While I’m a little bit sad that the band doesn’t sound as heavy as I’ve known it before, that the production is a little bit mellow, and that the album is missing a hit single, I must admit that its well-developed approach to creating its very own sound works rather well, and is completely respectable from an artistic point of view.
Most of the new tracks sound snatched from movies centered on medieval battles in the United Kingdom, and create a majestic, relaxing atmosphere. Their inspiring music manages to create a lot of images in my mind, and this is always a good sign in my opinion. To my surprise, the band also went back to the use of more electronic elements and a lot of samples as it did during its first few years. These elements harmonize rather well with the symphonic samples, the folk instrumentation, and the laid back melodic death metal style.
The great thing about this record is that it really sounds like something new, open-minded, and unique has been built up over the past years. It is a logical consequence and fusion of the band’s first three outputs. Therefore, it’s probably easier to appreciate and digest The Samans’ new output if you take the previous three releases into consideration and give this album more than just one or two spins. While one still hears influences of Cruachan or Eluveitie for example, these comparisons are a lot less evident than before. One could say that the band has finally found its own magic potion and it all makes sense to me. The band is definitely on the right path, and I’m still hoping for a first full length release sometime soon.
As it’s really tough to find this band’s records, just go and listen to it using the following link to make up your own mind about this release!
3.5 // 5