Tag Archives: Schammasch

Batushka, Schammasch, Trepaneringsritualen @013

On a rainy wednesday night I headed to 013 in Tilburg. Originally I scheduled  an interview singer and composer Chris S.R. from Schammasch for a chat about their music. Thee insanity of modern day touring made an interview simply too much for the Swiss artist. Still, I went to check it out, because Batushka is always a charm and I’ve never seen Trepaneringsritualen before.


Opener is that act from Göteborg, which uses beat driven industrial to bark defiance at the gods over. It’s a strange act in this line-up, but thanks to the dark, gloomy atmosphere it just works. The sole member on stage generates a sense of magic with a performance that is as much a ritualistic experience as a commander barking words at you. Yeah, that works together actually.


Then we await the mighty Swiss band, who have just released their latest record ‘The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite’. The EP format puzzles me since it seems to simply be a value judgment these days, more than a length indication. Regardless, a great listening experience after the opus magnus that is ‘Triangle’, with its 100 minutes of music over three records.

Schammasch starts of with drumming, setting the atmosphere of bombastic, grand music that combines black and doom elements with ambient and simple spoken word. Frontman Chris is adorned in a ritual garb and has his face painted black with gold. Call it an act if you will, it is more part of the message of spiritualism and art the band offers. Within the void of doom driven, rhythmic frames, the singer proclaims the words of Maldoror, with wide open eyes. The music stimulates your imagination, engages your body with the poetry of the Comte de Leautremont. The music simply immerses the listener, like a warm bath. As a frontman, the presence of Chris S.R. radiates conviction and strength, but also a remarkable absence of ego.

The set leaves you with an altered state of mind.


Then we head for the traditional orthodox mass, but turned onto its head. Batushka seems to struggle with some parts of the set-up but almost on time the band gets on the stage. Unfortunately, a draft blows out candles on one side of the stage, which the nameless priest tries to light anew a couple of times with no success. A guitarist gets stuck in the banner but once the band is settled, all that evaporates like snow in the burning fires of hell.

The sound of Batushka seems to have become more harmonious through the constant touring and the chanting has merged more and more with the black metal. That is good news because it makes the show even more captivating and removes the feeling that some moments are mere gimmicks. As a listener you simply allow the flow of the mass to carry you, with the bulky frontman as your impressive and confident guide.

In a haze of torrentous, though melodic black metal, Gregorian chanting and the smell of incense, one can truly experience the music of this Polish group of mystery man. The experience is good and complete, even with half the candles out.

Sounds of the Underground #42

Sounds from the Underground, on the #42 already with Graves at Sea, KawirSchammasch and Bright Curse. Some doom, some gloom and some nice oldschool riffs. Enjoy this one!

Graves at Sea – The Curse That Is
Relapse Records 

source: Bandcamp

Yes, I know, there he goes with another big label release, but have you heared the new Graves At Sea? The Band from the United States really brings that experience of 16 (!) years of demoing, doing splits and singles and so on, to create one of the most devastating, bleak sounding sludge/doom records you’ll hear anytime soon. This is complete devastation on tape. Dealing with dark thematic material in their songs, this is not for the weak of mind. The record was recorded by Greg Wilkinson (Nootgrush) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, YOB) and these gents did a great job in bringing this bands sound across the way it should be.

There’s a reason this band has played RoadburnMaryland Deathfest and many other great locations. The lyrics are full of grimy material and beautiful, yet haunting poetry. The sound however, is that of a sea where one finds their graves rather easily. Wild riffs clash against a wall of drums, when the cymbals ring out like the violent spray of water after impact. It surges on and on, never stopping. The vocal are a harsh bark, screaming defiance in a storm of sound. There are moments when the unrelenting relents, moments to breathe, but they are sparse and only fitted in to launch with even more vigor the next second. This is one tough record, but pretty damn good as well. Check it out if you get a chance.

Kawir – Father Sun Mother Moon
Iron Bonehead Productions

source: bandcamp

For 23 years Kawir has waved the banner around for Greek black metal, a movement of the genre that is too often overlooked when talking about black metal. The impact of these early Greek bands can not be ignored. With only one original member in the shape of Therthonax, the band is throwing out an album again, filled with blistering pagan metal. Though most people will instantly think of Rotting Christ when Greek black metal is mentioned, specially with the folkloristic elements, it’s Kawir who were from the start keen on implementing traditional Greek music and myth in song. They at some point only sang in ancient Greek apparently.

The sound is constantly wavering, with strange ethnic elements and tons of instruments adding to the amazing atmosphere of this record. It emphasizes the thematic elements of the music and has maybe through the years become part of it all. The almost cacophonous wind instruments and horns are blurting through, but so welcome in the otherwise polished and often blissful music. Musically it is ofcourse still black metal, but like Rotting Christ this band has softened with age and gotten into a more smooth and well measured balanced feel. The screamed vocals are unnerving and feel heavily out of control, but somehow dont clas with the densely woven pattern of guitars and rhythm, which immediately feels exotic. It’s one hell of an album. Glad these guys are still around.

Schammasch – Triangle
Prosthetic Records

Source: Bandcamp

If you are Schammasch, you don’t just make a record. If you’re in this wildly explorative avant-gardistic band from the town of Basel in Switzerland, such simple things don’t exist. This record contains three full albums. You read this right, it’s three albums. The (former) members of bands like Totenwinter, Atritas, Cold Cell and Blutmond like doing things differently. Technically it’s the third album of the Swiss group, following in the footsteps of their 2014 album ‘Contradiction’ (which kinda contained two albums as well). It’s quite a listen, but well worth your time.

Musically, the band feels very similar to the Polish giants Behemoth. Big, bombastic blackened death metal with the sort of passages that are heavy like a cathedral walls, with big archs and strong foundations in the epic rhythm section. Thematically, the band is in s similar occult and introverted realm, but there’s a complexity and innovativeness to the sound of Schammasch that you wouldn’t find in the more conservative sound of the Poles. The celestial chanting and ritualistic atmosphere are totally there though. I would say that there’s definitely a cathartic element to the album, which is in a way a procession, a path to follow from death to afterlife. Every movement is different and truly captivating.

source: bandcamp

Bright Curse – Before The Shore
HeviSike Records

The band exists out of three people of which 2 are French, one is Swedish and they all live in the United Kingdom. This combines three seafaring nations, I mean it has to be in the blood, to creat music with a certain nautical theme. Granted, this is not a band like Ahab, but there’s definitely a bit of that to be found in the artwork and songs. United they bring you an album laden with riff heavy stoner rock, a bit of psychedelica and definitely a certain degree of sludge in there as well. Interesting fact is the revolving series of bass players the band has had this far. Isn’t that something you should have with drummers?

Big soaring riffs welcome you when you start playing this record. The sort of vocals that complement that are also present, reating a big captivating sound of a big stage rock band. The sound is remarkably clean and melodic, without emphasizing power or aggression. I would even say that there’s an analoge feel to the guitars and buzzing bass. By which I mean that there’s an organic feel to the sound, where little has been polished away of the little squeeks and sounds that come with a recording.  On a song like ‘Cheating Pain’ an element of bluesy folk enriches the music.The reverb on the guitars sounds very natural, the vocals feel raw and direct. It makes for a great product of ballzy old school hard rocking psych, with those little loops that just dazzle your imagination. This is for the old riff lovers, which at times might seem like a dying art. Bright Curse does not have any issues delivering though