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Schammasch - Hearts of No Light Award winner

Hearts of No Light
by Martin Knap at 02 December 2019, 7:38 PM

Switzerland has produced a number of very original and influential Metal bands: think about CELTIC FROST, CORONER or SAMAEL – these bands definitely belong among trend setters, not trend followers. And in the recent years some hot bands have popped up form the local Metal scene, namely TRIPTYKON, ZEAL AND ARDOR, BOLZER, DARKSPACE or THE ERKONAUTS. SCHAMMASCH are a Black Metal band from Basel, which has also been making waves at least since the release of their third album “Triangle” in 2016. I have to admit that I’ve slept on them, I did like their dark, hypnotic sound when I’ve first heard their music, but I’ve got he impression that their music is a bit overblown and I wasn’t ready to commit to them and listen to their monumental, more than an hour and  a half long double album. But after hearing the unusual and unexpectedly catchy single from “Hearts of No Light” I wanted to see what they’re all about, the album is also shorter (a bit over an hour), so the task of reviewing it didn’t seem too daunting.

Whatever my reservations about their music might have been in the past – which I perhaps might have to re-evaluate – I’m completely sold on this new material. As I’ve mentioned above, I like SCHAMMASCH’s sound, but I love the songwriting on “Hearts of No Light” as well. Their sound is sweeping, large-scale, it’s neither purely atmospheric nor straight-forwardly aggressive. They have affinities with other post-second wave Black Metal bands like WATAIN or MGLA with their slashing tremolo riffs and tight guitar work. But SCHAMMASCH have a more expansive, dynamic songwriting approach, the songs shift between fast, aggressive parts and hypnotic, atmospheric parts, that can have an almost Doom Metal vibe, sometime they go full-on Dark Ambient. Half of the album songs are long, but it’s not too overpowering, only the final song is really long (15 minutes) but it’s a slow atmospheric/ambient number, which makes for a nice change.

After a tension building intro with somber piano and guitar melodies comes “Ego Sum Omega”. The beginning is a somewhat atmospheric, and the buildup is slow, but it has intense, climactic parts, with big, captivating riffs and layering of melodic lines – there are even some orchestral touches here. “Quadmon’s Heir” starts off more aggressively, the song shift between harsh parts – they have a bit of a WATAIN vibe – and softer, more atmospheric parts; the vocals also shift between raspy aggressive style and solemn chanting. The song builds up to a grand climax with soaring, solemn chants and awesome lead guitar playing. “I Burn With You” is emotionally charged and the song’s climax sounds almost euphoric.  “A Paradigm of Beauty”, can only be described as a banger, the song has a slow opening but the guitar suddenly breaks into a Goth or Post-Punk kind of groove, the chorus – the song has more of a verse – chorus – verse structure – then the others, is a really powerful Rock chorus. The album closes with an atmospheric song which feature some nice finger style acoustic guitar playing as well as a long Ambient section (basically the whole second half).

SCHAMMASCH have achieved something amazing on this album: they manage to sound deep and mysterious without sounding forced and stale, the songs are captivating and emotional and they are not spread too thin thanks to the great songwriting. The album has a great flow and even though it’s more than an hour long it doesn’t feel like the band is overextending itself in any way – on the contrary, it’s a well-rounded, coherent LP. “Hearts of No Light” could be very well be my personal favorite among this year’s Black Metal releases.

Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 8
Musicianship: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Winds that Pierce the Silence
2. Ego Sum Omega
3. A Bridge Ablaze
4. Qadmon's Heir
5. Rays Like Razors
6. I Burn Within You
7. A Paradigm of Beauty
8. Katabasis
9. Innermost, Lowermost Abyss
C.S.R. - Guitars, Vocals
B.A.W. - Drums
M.A. - Guitars
A.T. - Bass
J.B. – Guitars
Record Label: Prosthetic Records


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