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Album review: Schammasch - Triangle


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To the casual listener, the third album by Schammasch may seem like an obtuse endeavour.

In a world where music fans are accustomed to their albums being just under an hour in length, the Swiss mavens have unleashed a record filled with exactly 100 minutes of harsh black metal over three parts.

Before Triangle even commences, it is clear that Schammasch is not your standard, run-of-the-mill black metal band.

The quartet’s sheer ambition of releasing a record of this magnitude immediately establishes that this is a group that destroys any and all limitations placed before it. Yet the format is also one that, while admirable, presents its own unique canon of challenges. Schammasch must ensure that their work is all the more unique, diverse and transgressive to prevent listeners from turning away half way through.

Luckily, it is a task in which the band undoubtedly succeed; so much so that this article is most likely going to feel more like three individual reviews rather than one cohesive evaluation.

The album’s first part – entitled ‘Part I: The Process of Dying’ – is undoubtedly Triangle’s heaviest portion, reminiscent of the Schammasch that presented itself on their two previous releases, 2010’s Sic Lvceat Lvx and 2014’s Contradiction.

‘Crepusculum’ provides an opening instrumental before the band descends into ‘Father’s Breath’, with front-man C.S.R.’s deep growls along with pounding guitar-work providing a gateway to classic black metal brutality. ‘In Dialogue with Death’ combines its predecessors’ intensity with elements of melancholy and slower pacing, before ‘Consensus’ and ‘Awakening from the Dream of Life’ complete Triangle’s first third with even further heaviness. ‘The Process of Dying’ is possibly the least surprising section of this record. It is still an absolutely sublime example of punishing black metal and would definitely function fantastically as a stand-alone album – just like every part in Triangle could – but it comes from a place that we have already seen Schammasch inhabit twice before.

It is not until ‘Part II: Metaflesh’ that Triangle begins to pack its proverbial progressive punch. It is a more melodic, slower experience than the previous part.

C.S.R. begins to employ clean but haunting vocals that take the forefront in this entry while Schammasch’s instrumentals emanate with deep, doom metal musicianship. ‘Metanoia’ and ‘Above the Stars of God’ are the strongest tracks, each resonating in their haunting tone and mid-pace while also being able to add in guitar solos and death growls in throwback to classic Schammasch. ‘Conclusion’ utilises acoustic guitars to close the ‘Metaflesh’ album, providing an interlude into the third and final entry of Triangle: ‘Part III: The Supernal Clear Light of the Void’.

Schammasch close Triangle with what is an instrumentally confident finale. Vocals have a very minimal place in this closing section, with emphasis on progressive song structures and the provision of a primal, gothic soundtrack. ‘Third Ray of Light’, ‘Maelstrom’ and ‘Cathartic Confession’ focus primarily on a tribal drumbeat, while ‘The Empyrean’ closes its parent album with slow, continuous guitar and a final, lengthy, dark vocal passage.

To be blunt, everything about Triangle is amazing.

The inclusion of three vastly musically different parts into one album is a feat that can be likened to Opeth releasing Morningrise, Blackwater Park and Pale Communion at the same time: three vastly different experiences that sound as if they are from different eras ingeniously placed within one album.

This may be the best metal album that 2016 has gifted the metal community so far.

Triangle will be available physically and digitally via Prosthetic Records on 29th April.

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