I proudly abstain from listening to black metal in more than one social occasion, in most instances I rather not even listen to it other than extremely well executed Swedish, Finnish or Norwegian darkened sounds in the likes of Dissection, Emperor, Dødheimsgard, Immortal, Old Man’s Child, Carach Angren, Naglfar (perhaps more Viking oriented), Satyricon, In The Woods… (even thus this now deceased Norwegian Pagan act is not entirely honorable beneath such flag), etcetera.
It is said that the intellectual bondage to somehow praise, pure disillusioned believes and follow diminished martyrs in their knees without historical relevance nor proven substance quickly dismisses one’s attention regarding the raw, badly produced and rather static screamo passages toward raspy vocalizations or sorrowful hymns fused with high-speed guitar riffing still accompanied by overshadowing bass lines and storming drumming. Indeed, it does make me question if the older and “glorious era” of black metal is nothing but a modern movement that persists in crying out for everyone’s attention.
Either black metal has lost its importance in later years by favoring more progressive and technical death metal tendencies, or the relevance of such genre has been radicalized through the social media… Either path, it remains problematic. Times have altered, along with the fans supporting the bands, the record labels, the consumers and the media crush.
Coming from Basel, Switzerland – homeland of memorable obscure acts such as Samael, Alastis – Schammasch has risen in 2009. The name they have chosen originated from Šamaš, the sun god from the Akkadian, later Babylonian mythology, therefore post-Sumerian era. Defining Schammasch sonority into a singular musical genre turns to be quite enigmatic, as they perfectly blend modern black metal tides with dark metal alá country mates Alastis, and Norwegian Enslaved, with an ink of dreamy atmosphere that reminds me of an old Finnish act, Fester, combined with gloomy choirs in the Emperor vein. I might declare Schammasch as a modern black metal act whilst balanced the spectral dark mystic doom ambience amidst an artistic hybrid of cultural inspirations.
Schammasch recently published their ‘Golden Light’ video, taken from their second full-length album ‘Contradiction’, which was released by Prosthetic Records this year.
‘Golden Light’ is unlike any song on ‘Contradiction’, pretty much straight to the point. The song basically describes the moment before reaching a higher state of being, before receiving the light of progression. The film tells the story unto this point and gives it a personality, a face — the face of the hermit.
The video resembles to Behemoth’s ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ to a certain extent, especially if you consider the gloomy, misty grayscales in which it was filmed and the overall mid-paced walk through the tantrums.
The video was shot during three days, Summer Solstice 2014, in the French Pyrénées, 20 km north of the Spanish border. I have centuries-old roots in the ground of this arid, almost desertic land. When Schammasch came to ask me to direct a video for them, considering the sun being the center point of the band’s universe, I immediately thought that this solar, sterile country would be the most substantial solution. Not being a movie director myself, so to speak, I looked around for the most talented image-maker I could think of, and William Lacalmontie and I teamed up. French Cataluña is probably the last and only location in France where the Spanish ritual of the holy week can still be found. This inspired us to find an aesthetic and conceptual starting point of the story. It’s important, when possible, to have the core of a piece bound to the special context where it happens. Basically recounts the life of a hermit living far away from light until one day when, for some reason, he decides that he got further enough along in his life to reach this actual light, incarnated in a divinity.
In which concerns to the barren and arid landscapes;
The desolate mountains of southern France gave a well-fitting scenery for this journey. The atmosphere there is unique in many ways — ominous, raw and pure. So was the actual atmosphere during the shoot — torturous in some ways (besides the vespertine red wine sessions), and even the weather played against us, like many other unforeseeable things.
Schammasch will embark on a European tour later this month accompanied by blackened hordes Dark Fortress and Secrets Of The Moon. Previously, the quartet has been sharing the stage alongside with Jex Thoth, Temple Of The Baal, Vorkreist, Evoken and Forgotten Tomb.
‘Contradiction’ has been recorded by V. Santura, known for his previous involvement with Triptykon (formerly Celtic Frost, presently Dark Fortress) as a guitar player, and it is available in either Double Digipack or Double Gatefold LP versions (in both white and black vinyl editions) from Prosthetic Records. ‘Contradiction’ includes 85 minutes of epic sorrowful hymns with inventive black metal origins. On top of all that, it features once again, the majestic and twisted artwork disponible by the sinful artesian, Valnoir of the Metastazis Studio in Paris (also responsible for the ink on recent works of Paradise Lost, easiest and most recently, Ulver).
‘Contradiction’ promises to be a studio record not to be missed, sleepless and definitely; intriguing.