The new Swiss black metal masters return. This album is absolutely breathtaking. That's not a word I often use for black metal, especially when grounded so deeply in the old ways. But nonetheless, 'Triangle' proves that even the darkest, ugliest of genres has more value than just shock. Though perhaps not as complex or impenetrable as Blut Aus Nord or Deathspell Omega, Schammasch maintains a similar ability to captivate its listener and create something that transcends metal into art.
'Triangle' combines all of the best elements from black and blackened death metal releases over the past few years: Sulphur Aeon's 'Gateway to the Antisphere, Ascension's "Consolamentum,' and Behemoth's 'The Satanist' to name a few. Right from the start these tracks take on some of the most evil tones I have heard yet this year. I can do a bit of a summary job of this massive undertaking using my favorite track, I. Awakening from the Dream of Life. Amazing songwriting. From the circular, palm-muted hook that drives the first minutes, to the slow layering that follows, to the escalation of the tapping solo, and finally to the sudden shift to double-bass; this is what it's all about.
But for how impressive the captivating blackened death growls are on 'Triangle,' what turned my head even more is when they largely disapear somewhere between the last two thirds. It's a ballsy move turning a large chunk of your magnum opus over to instrumental and dark ambient, but it works. There is still the occasional use of chanting and other vocals here and there, but its as if Schammasch decided that all that needed to be stated in words had already been covered in part 1. The powerful single, Metanoia, which features the closest to what could be called clean singing, is like a chilling goodbye note before plunging into the dreary purgatory of part 3.
I'll admit, I didn't really think much of these guys back when everyone was drooling over 2014's 'Contradiction,' but something about this 1.5 hour + album just does it for me. And talk about scope: the band sees this as 3 (thus "Triangle") works all bound to a uniting concept. From the powerful swells of intensity that border on O Father O Satan O Sun! (Exhibit A: I. Father's Breath) to the extended periods of dark ambient in the latter half, 'Triangle' is just the thing black metal fans should be talking about in 2016. I guarantee that the lengthy solo and subsequent build of II. Above the Stars Of God will blow your mind. Clear your afternoon and get to streaming below.