Schammasch - Hearts Of No Light review




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Reviewer:
9.0

123 users:
8.39
Band: Schammasch
Album: Hearts Of No Light
Release date: November 2019


01. Winds That Pierce The Silence
02. Ego Sum Omega
03. A Bridge Ablaze
04. Qadmon's Heir
05. Rays Like Razors
06. I Burn Within You
07. A Paradigm Of Beauty
08. Katabasis
09. Innermost, Lowermost Abyss


Hearts Of No Light isn't the full-length exploration of the approach employed on The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite that I was expecting/hoping, but it's yet another excellent album from Schammasch, and still has a surprise or two up its sleeve.

After the three-disc exploration of their sound on Triangle, and an experiment in fusing those styles together more cohesively on the Maldoror Chants EP, Schammasch have taken a step away from the dark ambient side of their sound for the most part (with the exception of the lengthy closer, "Innermost, Lowermost Abyss"), producing something more in line with the first two discs of Triangle, particularly songs such as "Consensus" and "Satori". They retain and regularly display the capacity to erupt into more full-pelt, blast beat-infused black metal, but the album is more dominated by mid-tempo, atmospheric, ritualistic black metal with powerful, intense drumming. Whilst Hearts Of No Light represents something of a return to previous territory for the band instead of a continuation of their most recent path or a completely new direction, it is arguably the most effective implementation of their brand of black metal yet.

The strengths of this album lie in part with the production, particularly the mixing of the percussion; whilst the blast beats during the faster sections sit comfortably in the middle of the mix, clearly audible but not overpowering, the more tribal, tom-dominated sections feel slightly more prominent in the mix, bringing a sheer thunderous force to songs such as "Qadmon's Heir" and "Rays Like Razors" that arguably extends even beyond that of previous powerhouses such as "Satori". The mixing of the various other instruments is similarly excellent, from the echoing cleaner guitars to the buzzsaw tremolo riffing, as well as the various piano and keyboard segments (see the trumpet-esque sounds towards the end of "Ego Sum Omega" and subtle electronic pulses underlying the effective interlude "A Bridge Ablaze"), the culmination of all of which allows the top-level songwriting on Hearts Of No Light to shine.

Examples of this excellent songwriting include "Qadmon's Heir", which opens with blasting and frenetic guitar leads before gradually allowing the atmospheric percussion to dominate over harsh/choral dual vocals during a frantic first half, which then gives way to a slower, menacing, lead-guitar dominated soundscape and finally a hellish combination of religious vocal chants, heavy drumming and noisy guitar. The next track on Hearts Of No Light, "Rays Like Razors", is another highlight, a neat summary of the various elements that Schammasch are becoming increasingly renowned for, including the aforementioned powerful, atmospheric percussion, effective use of guitar leads, menacing riffs of varying tempos, and interplay between harsh black metal vocals and chanting clean vocals. I feel this song perfectly encapsulates the evil ritualistic atmosphere that Schammasch so effectively convey.

In contrast, the song "A Paradigm Of Beauty" is a substantial deviation from the band's established sound, a cleaner, more melodic song with an almost gothic rock vibe, particularly with the simplistic verse rhythms and sung chorus. To underline the extent of the departure here, I have seen the likes of Joy Division and Danzig used as reference points for this song. Such a drastic stylistic jump from the rest of the album has the potential to divide audiences; personally, I think the song is fine, but not at the level of the rest of the record. Additionally, it offers up a bit of whiplash in contrast to the songs that precede and follow it; I've seen people raise similar complaints about the straight black metal track "Chimerical Hope" on The Maldoror Chants, but I feel like that song was built towards by the subtle increase in intensity occurring across the preceding few songs, whilst here the disconnect is more striking.

Another aspect of Schammasch that has been considered divisive is the vocals; although I personally have never had an issue with the harsh vocals the band uses, and in fact find they usually complement the music nicely, I'm aware that a number of other listeners would disagree. One particular instance in which I do dislike the vocals on Hearts Of No Light, however, is the truly bizarre spoken word segment about 2 minutes into "I Burn Within You", 10 seconds of rasped, hysterical warbling accompanied by 'creepy' plinky-plonky piano that could easily have been left out with no negative impact on the remainder of the song.

Those couple of minor gripes aside, Hearts Of No Light is perhaps Schammasch's most accomplished effort to date, more concise and consistent than Triangle, and displaying an ever-present awareness of how to most effectively combine their various musical components to conjure the most sinister and compelling atmosphere possible.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 13.11.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments

Comments: 23   Visited by: 201 users
13.11.2019 - 20:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
"Paradigm Of Beauty" is a jam, but the rest of the album is fucking superb too.
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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13.11.2019 - 21:47
nikarg
Old Nick
Excellent review for an excellent album. I think this is Schammasch's magnum opus... until the next one.
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13.11.2019 - 22:25
musclassia
Written by nikarg on 13.11.2019 at 21:47

Excellent review for an excellent album. I think this is Schammasch's magnum opus... until the next one.


Cheers man! Yeah, they seem to be going strength to strength - they popped up on the edge of my radar with Contradiction, got my attention with Triangle, made me take serious attention with Maldoror and by the time this was coming I was genuinely excited about it, and it did not disappoint. I'm surprised by how much I'm into them now but they've really converted me
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13.11.2019 - 23:20
Dinruth
I've enjoyed this review a great deal and am always in awe of how analytic people write their critiques here on MS .. I wish I had that deeper understanding of music, but, alas, even after exposing myself to Metal for years now, I can rarely wander past a I like it/ I don't like it description
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14.11.2019 - 01:28
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Been looking forward to this. Alongside Cult of Luna, Esoteric, and Mgla, it's been on my hype list ever since I was aware of it.

Gonna set some time aside tonight and give it a go. This review makes me believe my expectations will be met, which seems to be a recurring trend for me this year. Very informative and well-written.
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I have no memory of this place.
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14.11.2019 - 08:45
Paź
ex-News Man
Thanks for the review!

My LPs arrived two days ago and I didn't have time to play them on my turntable
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14.11.2019 - 10:20
Lord Slothrop
Pretty much summed up my thoughts. These guys are on a serious upswing and I'm hoping they don't slow down any time soon. I still think Triangle is their masterpiece, but this album is new and time not only alters perceptions but things themselves.
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14.11.2019 - 10:21
Lord Slothrop
Written by Dinruth on 13.11.2019 at 23:20

I've enjoyed this review a great deal and am always in awe of how analytic people write their critiques here on MS .. I wish I had that deeper understanding of music, but, alas, even after exposing myself to Metal for years now, I can rarely wander past a I like it/ I don't like it description


You and me both.
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14.11.2019 - 15:07
mz
Written by Troy Killjoy on 14.11.2019 at 01:28

This review makes me believe my expectations will be met, which seems to be a recurring trend for me this year. Very informative and well-written.

Interesting. For me, many of albums I've been looking for this year had been a disappointment this year. This one, however, is a delight.
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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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14.11.2019 - 15:11
matt4815162342
Huh, interesting. I consider that "10 seconds of rasped, hysterical warbling accompanied by 'creepy' plinky-plonky piano" to be one of the highlights of the album and the song "I Burn Within You" arguably to be the best song on the album. But apart from that, I agree with majority of the points you made here.
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14.11.2019 - 15:45
musclassia
Written by Dinruth on 13.11.2019 at 23:20

I've enjoyed this review a great deal and am always in awe of how analytic people write their critiques here on MS .. I wish I had that deeper understanding of music, but, alas, even after exposing myself to Metal for years now, I can rarely wander past a I like it/ I don't like it description


I mean I've been practicing for a few years and I still find it something of a struggle to know how best to articulate the main points I want to make - finding the right reference points, important elements, can be pretty tricky unless it's a really simplistic or generic album. I think it might just be something that comes with practice - thanks for the kind words
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14.11.2019 - 15:47
musclassia
Written by Paź on 14.11.2019 at 08:45

Thanks for the review!

My LPs arrived two days ago and I didn't have time to play them on my turntable


I was looking back through old Schammasch threads on here whilst preparing for the review and saw you speaking very positively on most of them, so hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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14.11.2019 - 15:48
musclassia
Written by matt4815162342 on 14.11.2019 at 15:11

Huh, interesting. I consider that "10 seconds of rasped, hysterical warbling accompanied by 'creepy' plinky-plonky piano" to be one of the highlights of the album and the song "I Burn Within You" arguably to be the best song on the album. But apart from that, I agree with majority of the points you made here.


I thought there would probably be some people at least who liked that bit - for me it just felt really cheesy and out of place against the rest of the song (which I do like a lot on the whole, although probably less than a few others here)
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14.11.2019 - 18:29
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Haven't listened to it yet but I think I may be in the minority in saying that I was actually looking for more of an exploration of Schammasch's dark ambient side.... greatly enjoyed The Maldoror Chants and wanted to see them do more in that vein. Kinda surprising that they haven't, as if I recall correctly that album was said to be the first in a series... hmmm...

Anyway good review, sounds like this one is still quite ambitious and out of the box sound wise which is always a good thing. I'll get around to jamming it soon.
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Life was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed.
Nothing changed, it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze.
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14.11.2019 - 19:02
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by mz on 14.11.2019 at 15:07

Interesting. For me, many of albums I've been looking for this year had been a disappointment this year. This one, however, is a delight.

I consider it a benefit of having been removed from the scene for so long. Taking a few years away and not really exploring new metal bands/releases has made the return far more rewarding I think compared to if I was on the same path before, burning through hundreds of albums a month of almost exclusively metal content. A hiatus may not work for everyone but it's been refreshing for me.
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I have no memory of this place.
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14.11.2019 - 19:02
musclassia
Written by Apothecary on 14.11.2019 at 18:29

Haven't listened to it yet but I think I may be in the minority in saying that I was actually looking for more of an exploration of Schammasch's dark ambient side.... greatly enjoyed The Maldoror Chants and wanted to see them do more in that vein. Kinda surprising that they haven't, as if I recall correctly that album was said to be the first in a series... hmmm...


I was looking forward to seeing where they progressed that sound. As it is, I'm delighted with what they offer here, but hope that they haven't finished that particular avenue of exploration yet. I did see the Maldoror Chants was supposed to be part of a series, maybe they'll focus on that sound in EPs and stick with the more BM sound on the full lengths?
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14.11.2019 - 20:57
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by musclassia on 14.11.2019 at 19:02

Written by Apothecary on 14.11.2019 at 18:29

Haven't listened to it yet but I think I may be in the minority in saying that I was actually looking for more of an exploration of Schammasch's dark ambient side.... greatly enjoyed The Maldoror Chants and wanted to see them do more in that vein. Kinda surprising that they haven't, as if I recall correctly that album was said to be the first in a series... hmmm...


I was looking forward to seeing where they progressed that sound. As it is, I'm delighted with what they offer here, but hope that they haven't finished that particular avenue of exploration yet. I did see the Maldoror Chants was supposed to be part of a series, maybe they'll focus on that sound in EPs and stick with the more BM sound on the full lengths?


Yeah that indeed seems like a good way to approach this. I'm probably in an even bigger minority that wants an EP of songs like A Paradigm Of Beauty
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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14.11.2019 - 22:20
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by musclassia on 14.11.2019 at 19:02

I did see the Maldoror Chants was supposed to be part of a series, maybe they'll focus on that sound in EPs and stick with the more BM sound on the full lengths?

That may indeed be their game plan, and I certainly wouldn't mind it!
----
Life was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed.
Nothing changed, it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze.
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15.11.2019 - 00:40
MetalManic
As I'm listening to this album on spotify/android and reading this review/comments, I accidentally press the pop up Mylie Cryus ad while scrolling. It kills the music and the audio/video from crap takes over.

I know these ads/pop-ups pay the bills on MS but this happening is so NOT metal. Mods/owners, please get rid of.

This review was excellent and I am very happy to hear this release. Well described. You're inspiring to to review again.
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MetalManic
www.MetalManic.com
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19.11.2019 - 14:24
mz
Written by Troy Killjoy on 14.11.2019 at 19:02


I consider it a benefit of having been removed from the scene for so long. Taking a few years away and not really exploring new metal bands/releases has made the return far more rewarding I think compared to if I was on the same path before, burning through hundreds of albums a month of almost exclusively metal content. A hiatus may not work for everyone but it's been refreshing for me.

To be fair I'm not as invested in listening to new music as I was before. I think listened to 4 times more album back in 2017. I guess I just have not been lucky with most of the bands I really love this year.
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Giving my ears a rest from music.
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19.11.2019 - 20:16
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by mz on 19.11.2019 at 14:24

To be fair I'm not as invested in listening to new music as I was before. I think listened to 4 times more album back in 2017. I guess I just have not been lucky with most of the bands I really love this year.

Neither am I, if I'm being honest. Most new music I hear is from reviewing and catching up with releases from bands I'm already familiar with. I doubt I can even break 200 albums this year after starting in August, which would have been an easy goal for me if this were 2012. My desire isn't there as much but also my time is more limited, so my interest tends to be reserved for albums of this caliber, which are few and far between it seems.
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I have no memory of this place.
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04.12.2019 - 08:09
No one
Damn, first listen to this band and I'm impressed!
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04.12.2019 - 22:15
Peasant
I agree, decent review that does justice to a brilliant album.
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