Switzerland may not often be recognized for the superiority of its black metal output, but with bands such as Celtic Frost, Samael and Bolzer all hailing from the country any new group stepping forth really does have some serious heritage to contend with. Taking up this mantle are Schammasch, a four-piece band from Basel. Revealing themselves to the world with their debut album Sic Lvceat Lvx back in 2010, they have returned this year with a massive 84 minute follow up double album, Contradiction (Prosthetic).
Despite the length, this is not an album that should be picked apart by track; it simply slips easily through from beginning to end, defying the seeming need to be broken down into smaller chunks of time. There are however some differences between the two halves of this double album. While the offerings of the first CD are violent and dismal blackened tomes, the second half draws back with a heavier post-black influence, transforming into something entirely more introspective without losing any of its power.
The quality of this album is obvious right from the beginning, starting as it means to continue with a punishingly long 10-minute opener. Atmospheric and menacing, Contradiction winds its way through a myriad of influences, only held together by the ever-present layer of distortion from the guitars. Despite not grounding themselves in a particular genre, the different styles seem to fuse organically with both metal and non-metal influences falling together into a dissonant and dark cacophony. It is this encompassing other styles and fearless experimentation that makes this band stand so strikingly far apart from many others producing extreme metal today.
It may only be their sophomore album, but Schammasch have created a record both challenging and endlessly refreshing, a truly remarkable sonic journey from beginning to end. This is certainly not a band you want to ignore for too much longer.
9 / 10