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Schammasch – The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphodite Award winner

The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphodite
by Riccardo Gaffuri at 16 August 2017, 9:25 AM

About a year has passed since their last Triangle triple LP and Swiss SCHAMMASCH are now out with a new EP, The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite, planned as the first of three EPs bases upon XVIII century French poetic novel Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautréaumont (pseudonym for Isidore Ducasse), considered by a XX century surrealists as a main source of inspiration: protagonist of this poem is Maldoror, pure evil antihero, rebelling against God and embarking in a journey to negate him and show humanity stench.

This writing is likely to cause vertigo into the readers and on the same wavelength this EP goes: SCHAMMASCH continue on the same experimental path heard on the third cd from Triangle and from the start it is clear that the Swiss band is out for the evolution of their own music and their dialectics and not for “fame”. Their avant-garde black metal steer toward experimental is now more evident than ever: if the third Triangle cd might have passed as a phase or just an excursus, something like Celestite from WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, this EP shows this is the route they bravely choose, bravely because many of the listeners who enjoyed Triangle and their previous works might find it pretentious and off the track.

The “Prologue”, made by droney guitars and spoken distorted vocals (lyrics on the whole EP are actually verses from the English translation of Les Chants de Maldoror), is a first glimpse at the next 30mins descent into music deconstruction, in which track separation is just a formality. This opus is clearly conceived as a whole, an entire cell box in which the listener is put to see the riff walls rot away, the same guitar walls which in the previous work were oppressive but, in a kind of a way, almost reassuring given their solidity. Obsessive guitar riffs and downtempo drums that introduce “The Weighty Burden of an Eternal Secret” dissolve song structure just like LOCRIAN’s Infinite Dissolution: the track then grows in tempo, just to give place to an eerie chant. A double bass drumming along with distorted guitar riffs is used the carpet for the spoken verses of “Along the Road That Leads to Bedlam”, indoctrinating and severe: guitar feedbacks drive us into the interlude “These Tresses are sacred”, where single notes picking summons into imagination a blaspheme garden in which we can take some minutes of slightly less rotten air. A reverb and disturbing guitar, destined to grow in thickness throughout the track, starts off what is for me the highest peak of the EP. While there are no actual vocals it’s all around the voice: the spoken monologue, taken from the second canto by Les Chants, mixes and fuses perfectly with the bursted guitar riffs, then becomes a blaspheme chanting, to end just like a distorted whisper. “Chimerical Hope” is what more “traditional” fans will enjoy the most: uptempo blackened death track (something a là BEHEMOTH), it seems like a natural burst of all the evil that’s being growing in the previous tracks; once again a spoken monologue gives harshness to the atmosphere, before bursting in a final shattering surge that dies off in the repeated Gregorian chanting “DO NOT OPEN YOUR EYES” of the same title closing track.

Maldoror chants: Ermaphrodite is what I think art should be about: no compromise, no “working for the masses” and cashing out, just going toward a muse, successful or not. It might not satisfy SCHAMMASCH audience gained with their latest albums but it should neither be a surprise or a “they’re just trying something new”: all the elements of this EP (which should be listened in its entirety and not on a single-track basis), the formlessness of their music, their appeal to meditation and introspection, were already present in their discography, it’s just being condensed here, in this unique black pearl which, I’m sure, will gain even more value when the EP trilogy will be complete.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Prologue
2. The Weighty Burden of an Eternal Secret
3. Along the Road That Leads to Bedlam
4. These Tresses Are Sacred
5. May His Illusion Last Until Dawn's Awakening
6. Chimerical Hope
7. Do Not Open Your Eyes
C.S.R - Voice/Guitar
M.A - Guitar
A.T - Bass
B.A.W – Drums
Record Label: Prosthetic Records


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Edited 24 May 2018

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