Was it really 2016 that the epic Triangle was released to an unsuspecting world? Apparently so. An incredibly strong release, it narrowly missed out on the top spot for my best albums of 2016 list. It was followed up in 2017 by the even more avant-garde EP The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite, which provided a compelling dose of atmospheric material.
On Hearts of No Light Schammasch continue to develop their individual sound, drawing on the strengths from their past work, while infusing their newest with further avant-garde soundscapes and blackened experimentation. Across 67 minutes the band take the listener on a multifaceted journey into realms infernal.
Hearts of No Light contains music that spans a range of different moods, styles, and tastes, all of which is focused on spreading the band’s message. Nothing here is left to chance or included just for the sake of it; despite its length, there’s no filler, and everything has been carefully selected and put in its place with deliberate care and attention. There’s plenty of creative nuances on this release, and the songs are rich in ideas and form.
Around a cold heart of blackened darkness the band build bulwarks of progressive, experimental, and avant-garde immensity, towering over their domain with unassailable might. The end result is music that is imposing and grand, while still, somehow, retaining the ability to connect with the listener at a deeper level. Layered in depth and delivery, this is music that is raised up to a higher form of art than most bands of this ilk seem capable of.
The music is very well-written, with a lot of thought having clearly gone into the flow and structuring of the album as a whole, as well as the individual tracks. Some of these exist purely as interludes or bridges from one to the next, whereas most of the others are entirely self-contained entities, (at least on first glance). Schammasch have tried a wealth of new things on this record too, and it covers a lot of ground. A Paradigm of Beauty even sports a rock influence that I certainly wasn’t expecting.
However, rather than detract from the whole or annoy, as such experimentation can sometimes do, here everything is realised so well that each track simply enhances those around it. The album is definitely greater than the sum of its parts, regardless of how strong each individual song is.
Schammasch continue to mould themselves into one of the most individual and impressive acts out there. Long may this continue.