Ad Nauseam – Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est


One of the best things about being an… ahem… “mature” Metal fan is finally being over all that anti-trend nonsense. If you’re still on the more idealistic side of twenty-five you might want to skip to the next paragraph, but the cold fact is that Extreme Metal is as vulnerable to fashion as any other kind of Pop music (it’s okay, they’ve already stopped reading), with the same references cropping up in rotation until the trend moves on.

Adorned with underground-cool pencil cover art, Ad Nauseam’s debut album can be explained entirely in terms of names with a lot of cool weight in Metal right now. Combining the dissonant, abstract thundering of Gorguts, Ulcerate’s near-ambient Death Metal soundscapes, the flailing freak-outs of Deathspell Omega and a touch of Portal’s nightmarish otherworldliness, on paper Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est (Lavadome Productions) reads like an essay on “How To Write A Cool Death Metal Album In 2015”. It is also a perfect demonstration of why none of that stuff matters and Metal fans should finally stop caring about whether something is trendy or not, because it is not only a genuinely excellent album, but a truly distinctive one.

There is a genuine sense of both depth and individual voice on the album which raises it above the vast majority of its peers. Refusing to restrict themselves to a single territory, Ad Nauseam are equally comfortable with savage violence, abstract experimentation and doom-laden dissonance, yet never sound as though they’ve lost a sense of what they’re doing. Yes, it’s possible to identify the bits that sound like Gorguts or DSO, but as a whole they mesh together into something entirely itself.

Ad Nauseam have come out of nowhere with some of the most over-used references in modern underground Metal, and used them to assemble what will almost certainly be one of the best Death Metal albums of the year. If you didn’t think there was any space left in your collection for another album that sounds like this, you were objectively wrong. Fill that space immediately.


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Schammasch – Contradiction

Schammasch - Contradiction album cover

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

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