PICK OF THE WEEK: Swiss mystics Schammasch dream of darkness on swelling ‘Hearts of No Light’

Photo by Ester Segarra

The amount of bands doing interesting things within metal’s confines is at an almost ridiculous rate, with so much imaginative art being passed down to us on a seemingly weekly basis. It’s to the point where sometimes really strong records get lost in the shuffle because of the overflow of quality content, and it’s difficult for even us to keep up, and we get access to nearly all of it.

It’s not that Swiss burners Schammasch haven’t gotten their accolades in the United States, but considering the powerful nature of their catalog strictly based on how great it is, they really should be a bigger deal. Their fourth record “Hearts of No Light” is right on the horizon, and it’s another gigantic leap into the future for this group that keeps shapeshifting with each release. Here, the group has some added guests including Aldrahn (ex of Dødheimsgard  and Thorns) and visionary visual artist/musician Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane, Ovtrenoir) to help push the borders and expand the template. But most credit goes to the five members of Schammasch—vocalist/guitarist C.S.R., guitarists M.A. and J.B., bassist A.T., drummer B. A. W—who delve into gothic darkness, strange horrorscapes, and even some post-metal fog to color their amalgamation of black and death metal. It’s a chilling, sweeping record that never relents and always pays off with twists and turns that should enthrall you.

“Winds That Pierce the Silence” opens the record with pianos cascading and an emotional pall, as things fade suddenly before cutting back in and increasing the drama, heading toward “Ego Sum Omega” that bursts immediately and spews fire through cracks in the earth. Cavernous growls drive while daring playing sprawls all over, with a thunderous pace setting the tone and making the world fall apart. The track pulls back a bit and crawls for a while before another explosion burns, trampling bodies and causing dizziness, unleashing melodies before fading to black. “A Bridge Ablaze” has keys and beats blending together as pained speaking floods your senses, pastoral chants send chills, and the somber ending leads toward “Qadmon‘s Heir” that feels like it rips right through the universe. Growls strike as riffs maul, with the verses blasting, and C.S.R. wailing, “We are indeed dead but breathing,” before the track goes for broke. “We did come to defile the temple, for our reign is resort,” C.S.R. howls with authority as riffs swirls and chants are embedded into the crazed ending.

“Rays Like Razors” starts with the demand of, “Stab into my heart!” as tricky riffs split skulls, and the forceful push makes their momentum impossible to handle. “Those fires beyond will never rise again,” C.S.R. screams repeatedly as the guitars follow with a wave of madness, the drums destroy, and odd chants dig into your heart and blacken it. “I Burn Within You” is instantly speedy with raw howls that later are overtaken by goth-style clean singing. Carnival-style pianos then crash in, with dramatic speaking over top, and things come to a downward spiral that smashes at the bottom of the stairs. “A Paradigm Of Beauty” has guitars slicing amid strange echoes, while creaking vocals make their way into the picture. A proggy segment comes in and makes things even more adventurous, later ushering in a rock n roll-style rampage that feels jangly and edgy with sharp leads. Singing darkens everything, though it also results in a catchy pocket, while C.S.R. calls, “You gave me everything and more,” as the song ends. “Katabasis” has cold guitars greeting while the song slowly unfurls, setting a mode that finally ignites about three minutes in. The riffs punish as C.S.R. vows, “I will follow you down the path into the fire,” as the chorus smears soot. The track clobbers violently before coming to an enthralling finish. “Innermost, Lowermost Abyss” closes the record, getting started with glimmering guitars, beats mixing in, and a methodical build that lets this 15:05-long track breathe. Clean guitars wash away the charred entrails as classical-style leads enter, and the sounds spread into a trancey haze. The track feels like it’s floating in the stars before the volume builds with crackling static before everything spikes out.

Schammasch have changed themselves with each record, adding twisted new elements and exploring terrain other bands fear to tread. “Hearts of No Light” has no shortage of black heaviness and relentless savagery, but the imagination and fearless experimentation that goes into their music makes them even more dynamic and unpredictable. This is a breath-taking step into the future and even beyond this plane of existence for Schammasch, and their journey is something no one possibly could predict, which makes them a band you have to keep your eye on before they’ve defied human sight.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SCHAMMASCH/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords/