Schammasch

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About Schammasch

Basel, Switzerland's provocative black metal band Schammasch is named for Šamaš, the sun god from Akkadian/Babylonian mythology. Their sound, a mysterious, foreboding union of avant black metal, dark atmospheric textures, folk elements from pagan traditions, doom metal, and esoteric and occult lyrics, is rife with Hermetic mysticism. Their 2010 debut album Sic Lvceat Lvx was issued by Black Tower Productions barely a year after the band formed. It received abundant praise in many corners of the extreme music world, in print and online. After evidencing a brutal and haunting live show on stages with Jex Thoth, Vorkreist, Evoken, and Forgotten Tomb, they signed to Prosthetic Records; they were the first Swiss band to do so. Since that time, Schammasch have continued to release recordings, each murkier and more ambitious than the last, with unusual conceptual ideas: the 2016 offering Triangle was divided into three-LP/three-CD sets that were each 33:30 long. Schammasch have toured Europe countless times as either support or headliners and have become a formidable force on festival stages, where they perform only during the nighttime hours. The group formed in 2009 in Basel when four longtime friends and metal scenesters combined forces to form a band who played music that simultaneously existed outside black metal norms while adhering to its aesthetics. Drummer Boris A.W. (aka Azrael, who also plays in Cold Cell), bassist/engineer Christopher Ruf (aka C.S.R., ex- Totenwinter), guitarist/saxophonist Mark A. (aka M.A., also in Blutmond), and guitarist Jonas Merb (aka J.B., in Blutmond) began rehearsing and writing almost immediately. Without releasing a demo, they self-recorded and produced their debut album Sic Lvceat Lvx. They began experimenting with songwriting and production techniques from the start, creating a formidable foundation and ballast to the sound they delivered on their debut. Despite positive attention for the album, Schammasch didn't release another until unleashing the massive, 85-minute Contradiction for Prosthetic in 2014. Co-produced by ex-Celtic Frost guitarist V. Santura, its cerebral approach was countered by a slow, experimental, brutal musical attack, complete with flamenco nylon-string guitar interludes, morose chanted and growled vocals, and fat, rumbling blastbeats. The album drew more acclaim than its predecessor, even as Schammasch perfected their live show opening for acts as diverse as Alcest, Ulver, the Ocean, and Mayhem. The album drew rave reviews from Decibel, Metal Hammer UK, Terrorizer, and RockHard GER. Given the recording's warm reception, the band were given their own headline dates at home and played first support for others on the road. When they returned to the studio in late 2015 with engineers/co-producers Santura and Michael Zech, they enlisted a large group of friends (female and male) to assist with additional vocals, keyboards, and guitars. The resulting limited-edition, three-disc, 100-minute Triangle was hailed by the metal press as the most ambitious release of 2016. Its swirling production and doomy soundscapes were nonetheless deeply melodic and modally expansive. The band toured Europe again, selling out virtually every headline show on their way. The following year, they delivered the 39-minute EP The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite. It was engineered by C.S.R. with Simon Jameson and Raphaël Bovey. The set's lyrics were all adapted from Comte de Lautréamont's (pseudonym of Isidore Lucien Ducasse) bleak and provocative surrealist masterpiece of the same title. Slower, with more ambient, experimental, and theatrical flavors, the set was their most musically sophisticated to date, yet was somewhat ignored by the press, who had a hard time reckoning with the sexually fluid subject matter (the world of black metal is notoriously asexual). It didn’t hurt the band's touring profile, however, and they began headlining stages at festivals that summer. During a tour break in the summer of 2018, the band began writing together and recording piano tracks by friend and guest Lillian Liu of Akheth in a Swiss studio. Over the course of the next year, during tour breaks, Schammasch worked in studios in Switzerland and Germany. While doing most of the work themselves, they hired on special guests including Pascal Dick of Ded Elk on flamenco guitars (he had played on Triangle as well). Co-produced by C.S.R. and Markus Stock, the nine-song Hearts of No Light was bookended by intense instrumentals. It was released in an edition of 4,000 copies by Prosthetic in November while Schammasch toured Europe with Enthroned and Caronte. ~ Thom Jurek

ORIGIN
Basel, Switzerland
FORMED
2009
GENRE
Metal
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