Sannhet’s bustling debut ‘Known Flood’ introduces the group, Sacrament Music


It’s hard enough to tell a compelling story or convey emotion properly using words. It’s altogether different to try to do the same things without using language and still remain exciting and thoughtful, keeping an audience interested and tuned in until you reach the end of your tale.

That’s one of the reasons instrumental bands fascinate me — though often they frustrate me — because you have a group of musicians trying to put together a package of music to make your heart race simply on how they communicate instrumentally. Yes, I know the classic composers did the same thing, and there are orchestras everywhere that sweep up listeners and take them on massive journeys, so the concept isn’t new or anything. But I always find it a little extra special in the metal medium when a band can do that same thing without horrifying growls, terrifying shrieks, or dramatic bellows and still keep me tuned in and following on the edge of my seat as if I was hearing a great mythological tale.

Sannhet coverThis leads me to introducing you to Sannhet, the latest product of an ever-bustling and creative Brooklyn metal scene that’s done a hell of a lot to change the face of underground American heavy metal the last few years. It also gives us a chance to talk about the new label Sacrament Music, a venture by the St. Vitus Bar in the same borough that has been one of the premiere places to experience heavy music in all of New York City. Sannhet is one of the locals that have played St. Vitus since their formation a few years ago, and now the new label is throwing their support behind the group in an even more meaningful way, by making sure the group’s incredible music finds its way into more hearts and more ears, and if this first release by Sacrament is any indication of their future, it’s going to be a hell of a place to follow.

Same can be said for Sannhet, as their debut album “Known Flood” is an astonishing piece of work, an almost entirely instrumental record that is volcanic, experimental, stunningly well played, smart, and punishing. The trio of guitarist John Refano, bassist AJ Annunziata, and drummer Christopher Todd worked with Colin Marston on their initial record, and that seems like a really good choice. The band sometimes sounds a lot like Marston’s band Krallice with their cosmic metal and black metal experimentation, but that’s only part of the time. But no matter what they’re doing, they keep you guessing and engaged through nine songs.

“Absecon Isle” opens the album, and it’s one of those that should bring to mind Krallice, as noted, and is a whirlwind of blackness, dizzying guitar work, and surging emotion that starts things on the perfect note. “Safe Passage” is spacey, the drums pound with viciousness, and as it draws to a close it gets chunky and then eerie and chant-filled. “Invisible Wounds” continues the chants and then melts into a sludgy doom riff, picking up momentum and fury as it builds, with forceful blast beats. It then dissolves in a bed of synth drone and ambiance, with noise rising up that blows right into “Endless Walls,” that has weird things going on and people shouting in the background, and its heaviness is obvious but also a little understated.

“Moral” begins with a radio dial shifting around, and then it erupts into gloomy, doomy transmissions and a fully cathartic musical display. “Slow Ruin” has more pulverizing drumming from Todd, the track on which he really gets to stand out and be a star, though piercing guitar lines come in and slice the sucker in half, letting more ambiance float out like a cloud. That paves the way for “Haunches,” which begins in a foggy dream state but then turns into a mind-numbing black metal display very much in the same vein as Ash Borer. It’s also the one song with vocals, albeit buried infernal cries. “Still Breathing” has a clean intro like a classic metal song, then a loops plays of a man speaking about doing time, and when it seems like it’s all going to stay on the level, the drama cascades, and the band responds with one of their punchiest sections on the record. Closer “Flatlines” is full of hums and pulsations, letting you drift into nothingness as the record fades away.

Sannhet’s debut is an exciting one, and they’re one of those special bands that tell great stories without words, with only their instrumental prowess to forge the path. I’m also curious to see if the band changes at all from this point and adds more sounds and drama into what they do. If they don’t, there’s enough in their arsenal already to keep them interesting for a long time. As for Sacrament, if their future projects are as good as this one, that’ll be a label to watch.

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