29th April, 2016 – Prosthetic Records
Disc I – The Process of Dying
02. Father’s Breath
03. In Dialogue with Death
06. Awakening from the Dream of Life
Disc II – Metaflesh
01. The World Destroyed by Water
04. Above the Stars of God
Disc III – The Supernal Clear Light of the Void
01. The Third Ray of Light
02. Cathartic Confession
03. Jacob’s Dream
05. The Empyrean
The Swiss do not do mediocre. Whether skiing, chocolate, banks, or being neutral, they’ve always done well at things – and as evidenced by Schammasch, they can add black metal to that list. The Baslerin’s 2010 debut Sic Lvceat Lux alone was good enough to get them signed to Prosthetic Records. The rather excellent Contradiction followed in 2014, and two years later they are bringing their third full length, Triangle, to the table. Triangle is a massive album, packed onto three discs, each representing a different side or sound. Ambitious? Yes, absolutely. The length should not daunt any potential listeners though. Each side is only about 30 minutes long, and the album actually moves by fairly quickly once you achieve total immersion. And there is a lot to immerse yourself in.
Part I: The Process of Dying
Triangle’s first part revels in sheer flame; slow-burning, acid-spewing fire. Containing the most orthodox black metal found on the record, it still has Schammasch’s signature ritualistic spin. It’s hard not to make the comparison to Behemoth; Chris’ vocals have a similar furnace-like quality, and the guitar riffs ring with an eerie occult power much like found on some of the Polish legends’ works. The comparisons are only mild however, as Schammasch have a much more developed talent for writing guitar melodies to wind their way around the riffs and vocals – and nor do the death metal elements that Behemoth have cultivated really exist within the torrent of grim fire spewed forth on The Process of Dying.
Furthermore, the songs on The Process of Dying have almost a hollow feeling to them; tension and terror lurks within them. “In Dialogue with Death” in particular is desperate and prophetic, flaying the mind of the listener in unholy fires of doomsday; the sound of Luciferian deities setting the mortal realm ablaze, and bringing an end to the age of man. What could possibly follow this?
Part II: Metaflesh
Triangle‘s second part, Metaflesh, reveals Schammasch’s occult side. Vastly more ambient, and feels more almost apocalyptic, dealing lyrically with the destruction of mankind and the world. It erupts into something akin to Part I’s burning fire at times, but maintains a methodical pace for the most part.
Songs like “Satori” and the transcendental “Above the Stars of God” are some of the finest black metal tracks written in recent memory; the latter with serving as the aftermath of the first disc, where fire has devastated the world, and so now fire comes for the eternal kingdom of Heaven. “Above the Stars of God” stands out particularly as one of the best tracks of the year, staring out slow with an almost David Gilmour-like guitar solo building up until the song slams into the listener with heavy chords and powerful vocals. The cries of “I will raise my throne!” are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
And then from there it drops into the brooding, acoustic “Conclusion”, which is the perfect transition into part the third…
Part III: The Supernal Clean Light of the Void
Final chapter The Supernal Clean Light of the Void throws the listener for a bit of a curveball. Rather than another fiery torrent of black metal or a menacing, lumbering beast of occultism, its minimalist, dark, ambient tendencies make it perhaps the one that is most easily left on as background music. Tranquil, yet with a strange malevolence, the drumming is often very simple and tribal, while the instrumentation ranges from ominous drones to acoustic guitars to pipes and saxophones.
Closing track “The Empyrean” is very fitting and almost seems to tie the sounds of all three parts together, marrying the pounding occult and fear from the first two with all the tense malice of the third.
As a whole, Triangle‘s musicianship is phenomenal. Boris’ drumming is especially noticeable on many tracks, providing a fantastic backdrop for the blistering and towering guitars. His work on songs like “Consensus” or “Above the Stars of God” is jaw-dropping; the rhythmic patterns are hypnotizing, and to his credit, the performance across all three party raises Schammasch above their peers.
Elsewhere, Chris S.R utilises a range of styles, from infernal growls to demonic rasping – and even clean vocals that sound like an ominous liturgical chant – while some fantastic little guitar leads make their presence felt all over the album. “Awakening from the Dream of Life” has one of the more memorable ones including a ferocious harmonized tapping section, as well as a the incredible “Above the Stars of God” has a truly incredible one that enhances the feeling of the vocals and then later the drumming.
Black metal is known for lo-fi and raw production values, but the trend lately with many bands is to go the opposite route. Schammasch are one such band; Triangle#s mix is pristine, with every element shining through. If a lead is buried, then it is meant to be buried. Nothing is drowned out, and the whole thing rings with power.
Triangle is just a fantastic record. The triple-disc format may be somewhat intimidating, but the overall run-time is not actually all that long, especially when one considers that the listener is getting essentially three different albums from it. Each part is a unique taste of Schammasch’s diverse flavour, and each has different strong points supporting the atmosphere of the album. Highly recommended for fans of black metal who are tired of worshipping Mayhem all the time.