Album Review: Schammasch’s Sic Lvceat Lvx is for Lovers (of the Great Cosmic Satan)


I hate to be a geo-musical reductionist about this, but this black/death quartet’s hometown is positioned right where you would expect their brand of esoteric dissonance to live. Basel nestles in a triple borderland along the river Rhein where France and Germany crowd Switzerland’s northern corner. Based on Sic Lvceat Lvx’s sound, it’d be nice to be able to draw Poland into the mix, but I guess Behemoth’s millennial ubiquity doesn’t really require physical proximity to spread its influence. Schammasch have strung together their favorite bits of skewed French decrepitude, fist-shaking German aggression and monotheistic Swiss frostiness. The rushing confluence of dark forces turns Schammasch songs into murky vortices of razor-toothed occult atmosphere.

Last year, Prosthetic Records released the band’s second album, a twofer called Contradiction that advanced the band’s sound (from their debut, at least) into caustic new territories. But for the moment, we’ll focus on the label’s reissue of Schammasch’s very underground first album, Sic Lvceat Lvx, which originally shone its light under the bushel basket of small Swiss label Black Tower Productions. Now that Prosthetic has taken the promotional reins, we can hope this debut’s profile will increase somewhat. It certainly deserves the attention of any heavy music freak as interested in abyssal adoration as the banging of heads.

If black metal were a spunky, excitable foxhound, then Schammasch would be the unruffled Great Dane. If black metal were a mischievous adolescent, then Schammasch would be its cranky gramps. Get the picture yet? All the serrated hallmarks of demonic, soul-rending black metal are firmly in place on Sic Lvceat Lvx, but the harshest vocals rise only into pained roars rather than ghoul shrieks and avalanche-inducing blast beats rarely make even the scarcest appearance. The sound quality feels eroded, and the band admits – in fact, is proud – that they had no interest in polishing it. Everything adds up to a coarse, brooding forty-odd minutes more interested in hailing the existential symbolism of wind-flung bonfires than in actually lighting them. The mature ruminator will revel in Schammasch’s debut more readily than the more impulsive thrash enthusiast. Lovers of tech-death, back away. Lovers of the Great Cosmic Satan, indulge yourselves.

Schammasch’s Sic Lvceat Lvx comes out May 19 on Prosthetic. You can check out the track “Inri” here and pre-order the album here.

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