Europe has always been the niche for underground extreme metal, from conventional black or death metal bands to more progressive thinking artists. Schammasch has been crafting their art to become one of the latter, creating a far-reaching style of their own grabbing inspiration from root genres of metal to ambiance or soundscapes resembling the vastness of nature. With their newest album ‘Triangle’ set to be released later this month, Schammasch explore their own inner-self to deliver an ambitious triple album, and frontman Chris S. R. sat down with us to discuss in detail what we’re expecting to get with this gigantic offering.
Tell us a bit about what Schammasch has become in the past few years since you guys started.
It started as a new project between B. and me after our preceding band broke up. Back then I had a clear goal in creating a new band, which is fulfilling more and more now, the further we go. Schammasch has become one of my main aspects of life and one of the most important (if not the most important) drives to keep going. It helps me finding elements of peace and freedom in life, for which I strive, sometimes desperately. Sometimes it even feels like somewhat of a mission, even though I don’t see it as one. But to see follower statements like “This album has changed my life” is one of the biggest gifts, the creation oft art could ever give to me.
You have a new triple album coming fittingly titled ‘Triangle’ which you’ve been working nonstop for a good part of an entire year. How have its challenges pushed your creative approach on all your art and your personal character?
I’ve done a much bigger part of the production myself this time, which wasn’t the case on Contradiction [band’s previous album.] Through doing this, I’ve learned a great deal on how to handle things as final parts of the guitar-, vocal- and soundscape-production etc. myself. I’ve learned to make my own decisions on handling production and also visual aspects, being less dependent on other people (even though my production-abilities are definitely not enough to handle it completely on my own). I’ve learned to trust more in my own abilities and being able to see the actual value of my work more clearly than I was in the past, which is certainly one of the most important things. Also I allowed myself to drift away on Triangle, to leave certain “safe” areas when it comes to songwriting, trying new approaches, simpler elements. I tried to just follow the natural flow, wherever it would lead. This was extremely different to the way I worked on Contradiction and probably more liberating in the end. I think in Triangle we finally managed to fulfill and complete our own artistic character and dimension.
‘Triangle’ has a vast expansion on your music, not just because it is a triple record, but the songwriting and composition feels massive and more daring than your previous releases. Was there any personal or emotional event that triggered this growth and where do you expect it will go from here?
I’ve went through quite massive changes of life in 2015, which certainly influenced the way I worked on the album. I will probably continue this path in the future, allowing myself to go wherever the creational drive will take me.
You have explained that one of your main drives with Schammasch has been the need to express your art, which encapsulates your writing, music and visual arts accompanying it. How would you describe this hunger to create more and did the conception of ‘Triangle’ satisfy its latest urge?
Well, if not a triple album could do so, what else could? Yes, it absolutely did. For a moment at least. I would say it’s just a very deep, underlying sensitivity towards life and the nature of being, which needs to be given some sort of shape. I think it’s very hard to force things like this into words.
The first side of ‘Triangle’ has the extreme metal sound we’ve known Schammasch for; the second side has a slower pace with an abrasive atmosphere from the immersive chanting and cleaner singing; and the last side is ambiance ranging from instrumentation to abstract sounds; What do they represent and how do they mesh together?
All three reflect three different steps towards a fulfilled state of being. The Process of Dying describes the experience of loss and change through death, and furthermore its acceptance. Metaflesh stands as the balance between earthly life and the spirit world, pointing out the necessity and the reality of both of them. The Supernal Clear Light of the Void represents the final state, the mastering of the ego, a state of freedom, light or void.
In the past, you’ve said that you don’t have a specific affiliation with any religion but still have a strong spiritual thrive for knowledge, hence why you explore a lot about life and death, good and evil, darkness and light; How has ‘Triangle’ expanded your spirituality and are you exhorting others into doing the same?
The creative process of Triangle helped me to manifest a quite clear vision of what my believes and views on life and spirit are. I’ve searched for many things in different ideological fields, but never found one of them to be satisfying or real enough. I’ve discovered a way for myself not to deny any of them though, but rather try to connect them, and through this composing my own set of belief, which is in constant progression.
I think it’s up to everyone themselves to figure out whether there is a need for them to involve spiritual teachings or ideas in their lives or not. Many people don’t find things like that necessary. It is my belief that there is a spiritual aspect to everyone and everything, I think it just manifests differently for everyone. People should try to find their own approaches on these things. What I see in Triangle is a set of lessons addressed to myself. I wish that people may find their own connections to it, whatever those might be.
On the same topic, you have expressed the futility of encasing one’s ideologies into a systematic belief, whether is Satanism or any other religion, and actually reach for an endless turn of possibilities to guide your inner self. What are the limitations you have found many fall in between and how do you break away from its boundaries?
I know what you mean but I wouldn’t put it like that. I truly think a systematic belief can work for some people, helping them to expand their experience of life by restricting it to the aspects that they might find valuable and distancing from those which they don’t, which is basically called discipline.
It takes a lot of will power to do so, and a lot of dedication and wisdom to be able to see through the veils of words and rules, to be able to discover the actual essential messages behind the words. I can have highest respect for people who are trying to dedicate their lives to a spiritual code in order to become a more fulfilled being, depending on how they do it. The problem is, that a major part of people, dealing with those things, are unable to see through the veils and get lost very easily in the walls of words, which leads to the exact opposite result. If you take the Black Metal scene for example, how many of the people out there, pretending to be followers or believers of this or that, are truly dedicating their lives to the thing they talk about? Usually it’s not the ones talking about it, or showing it to the world, cause there is no actual need for that.
I found myself to be unable to follow one certain ideological belief system, for many reasons. I accept that I cannot dedicate my life to one set of rules. What I’m trying to do instead is, to draw out inspirations from everything I consider useful in the moment, trying to accept that things are in constant change.
One can easily get lost in religious or philosophical writings. I think it’s extremely important to always remember that many important things in life cannot be put into words. So don’t let words control your life or decisions.
Going into the visual aspect of the record, the album will come with a series of photographs done by the talented Ester Segarra and a new video clip recorded in the beautiful landscapes of Iceland. How do these aspects of the record relate with the album’s concept as a whole?
It was already clear to me, that I want to have a photographic based artwork for the third album back after Contradiction was released. The fact that the artwork is far away from the usual neo-occult scenery and symbolism is a strong statement at this moment. The artworks show plain aspects of the human life, which everyone has to face eventually, in some way or another. The artworks simply summarize the individual chapters.
The album cover shows an upside down man crucified on what resembles to be a Tau-cross instead of a traditional Latin cross. What can you tell us about it?
I’ve expected people to think of the artwork in relations to the cross. The original idea behind the artwork pose, though, is based on displaying the free fall into nothingness. There’s not really a secret code behind it, it is as simple as that.
What lies ahead the path of Schammasch for the next year?
Next thing after the album release will be a new music video, some summer festivals and a quite big Europe tour with Inquisition, Rotting Christ and Mystifier in October and November. Before that tour, we are aiming to start the recording sessions for our next release, which will be an EP.
You are fairly new to the North American community as you’ve been developing your fellowship back in Europe for a few years. Looking at the American culture as a foreigner, what do you expect to achieve once you reach our continent?
That still might take a while, because we will be very careful on that, considering that there are quite a lot European bands, telling their stories of thousands of Euros lost, cause of denied visa etc. We cannot afford stuff like that in any way. So first thing I expect, once we plan to come over, is horrible and endless red tape. Once that is overcome, I expect good concerts, meeting interesting people and hopefully dedicated listeners. From what I’ve heard though, it’s rather hard for European bands to gain ground in the states.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the interesting interview, see you on the road one day hopefully!
Triangle will hit the shelves on April 29th via Prosthetic Records and can be pre-ordered at this location.