After blowing the competition away with their previous album, ‘Contradiction,’ Schammasch has once again proven that they are one of the most innovative and adventurous voices in black metal today. Their latest offering, ‘Triangle,’ has been received with massive critical acclaim. And despite its length and scope, it remains one of the tightest albums I have heard this year across genres. It was with great pleasure and anticipation that I sent the enigmatic group these questions, and the answers did not disappoint. Join us as we talk ‘Triangle,’ Switzerland, and the future of black metal.
Transcending Obscurity (FlightOfIcarus): First let’s just talk about the sheer scope of this thing. ‘Triangle’ is really 3 separate albums around a unifying concept. What inspired you to go this direction?
Schammasch: Since ‘Contradiction’ dealt with the number two/duality, split up into two discs, ‘Triangle’ deals with the number three/unity, split up into three discs. The album concept builds up on the holy trinity symbol, exchanging its original three aspects. Once the thought of a triple album came up, it was all very logical.
TO: Each “movement,” if I can call them that, are definitely quite different in tone, especially once we get to the predominantly ambient tracks. What was the writing process like for this? Did you take them one at a time, or work with ideas as they came and order them later?
S: I worked on all three chapters simultaneously. My way of working on things is rather chaotic, it functions mostly through many small steps. Sometimes I check out songs I’m working on randomly, listening to them and spontaneously add a lead guitar here, a vocal line there, stuff like that. The creational process behind ‘Triangle’ was very hard and exhausting sometimes, since it brings difficulties keeping an overview for such a vast work.
TO: Was the writing process different from that of your last album?
S: Yes. It was less „distracted“ by other band’s influences. I’ve listened more to myself than to other bands, than I did on ‘Contradiction’. I allowed myself much more experimenting in general, which is quite obvious I think.
TO: ‘Triangle’ has some really eye-catching artwork. I have had the pleasure of looking over the various pieces for each disk. Could you share what it was like to work with Ester Segarra and Valnoir, and what led to these particular images?
S: The concept behind the artwork is based on sculpture works of Richard MacDonald, a US sculptor artist. We wanted to use pictures of the originals, but didn’t get permission, so we recreated them with actual models. Ester was great to work with, very professional and dedicated, and also focused. To work with Valnoir can be a bit chaotic sometimes, despite the fact that he’s simply one of the most skilled artists out there.
TO: Could you share a bit more detail on the concept of the album as a whole?
S: The concept is, as mentioned before, based on the number three in which is the symbol for the state of unity in various religious contexts. The three chapters of the album can be seen as an abstraction of the holy trinity symbol.
TO: How would you say your homeland of Switzerland plays into your songwriting? Were any of you Celtic Frost fans growing up? I understand you actually worked with V. Santura on ‘Contradiction.’
S: I don’t think my nationality influences my musical work. Of course we liked Celtic Frost as kids, and we still do, but despite all the press sayings, I was never influenced by them big time. To me, German and French bands played the most important roles when it comes to (Black) Metal influences. Yes, we worked with V. Santura on ‘Contradiction’, as well as on ‘Triangle’, but there were many reasons for that decision back then. Apart from having played in Celtic Frost and playing in Triptykon, he simply is a great producer.
TO: Are there any other Swiss metal groups you might shout out to our readers? Particularly from the underground?
S: Of course there are: Blutmond, Cold Cell, Zatokrev, Bölzer, Borgne, Darkspace & Nucleus Torn. Sorry to the ones I forgot.
TO: It can be hard in extreme black metal music to land a major label. How did the signing with Prosthetic come to be?
S: After months of waiting for label answers, I checked out a small boutique label called Paradigms Rec from the UK. It looked interesting, and a friend of mine told me good things about it’s owner, so I sent him the ‘Contradiction’ master. He loved it, so he told us he’s up for releasing it, but over Prosthetic instead. We didn’t really know that he was also the EU manager for them.
TO: Who has been your favorite band to tour with so far?
S: Secrets of the Moon and Dark Fortress.
TO: What is your favorite song to play live? Which new song seems to get the best fan reaction?
S: Hmm hard to say, the most intense for me is probably still Black but Shining from the first album. Also Golden Light always gets me into a deeper state.
As for the new songs, well, we couldn’t (and won’t) play all of them live, but Consensus and Metanoia happened to be very strong live songs.
TO: There are so many different subgenres of black metal these days. I admire your ability to maintain what seems to be the core elements of 2nd wave while venturing into new, dark territories. What are your thoughts on more melodic West Coast US groups like Deafheaven or mainstream acts like Dimmu Borgir?
S: The latter are dead since quite a long time now, aren’t they?
I don’t like Deafheaven and I really don’t get why the whole world goes crazy about them, honestly. Nothing interesting to me about them, at all. But since I very rarely check out newer metal bands, I don’t really know much about what’s going on with all that stuff. I’m rather tired of the metal scene these days, it’s just too much of a circus besides anything else. I just try to do what I like to. To each his own.
TO: Where do you see the black metal genre heading in the future?
S: I honestly can’t tell. It’s probably one of the most diverse genres nowadays, when it comes to metal, so I guess it will grow more and more experimental, on the other hand there’s always gonna be the old school people.
TO: If you could collaborate on a song with any musician alive or dead, who would it be?
S: Brendan Perry and/or Lisa Gerrard.
TO: Finally, what’s next for Schammasch? And is there anything more you would like fans to know about ‘Triangle’
S: We’re looking forward to release the video clip for Metanoia soon, also there’s quite a few festival shows coming up over the summer and after that of course the fall tour with Inquisition, Rotting Christ and Mystifyer.
As for ‘Triangle’: see the message, not the words.
Take a listen to the album for yourself below.