Sammath – Dodengang

Modern black metal production is very annoying in a lot of cases, since the prevailing mixing philosophy these days seems to be ‘turn everything up to ten and play, a sense of aural space or dynamics is for queers’.  ‘Dodengang’ is an album with such a production philosophy; any subtlety in the production job would probably not be ‘true black metal’ enough for Sammath, so instead of real production, we just get an oversaturated, vaguely clear mess that never really congeals the instruments into a discernible whole.

The ‘subtlety is gay’ philosophy extends past just the production and into the realm of songwriting, because Sammath plays black metal about as shallow and norsecore derived as it can possible be.  Dark Funeral is clearly the prevailing influence here, as Sammath almost note-for-note copies that band’s distinctive style of dark, dogmatic riffing based on tremolo picking or the occasional attempt at being epic (which just means slowing the music down and using held chords, not actually changing the sense of melody or anything).  Sammath occasionally attempts to liven up the proceedings by very briefly introducing keyboards at pivotal moments in the songs (such as near the end of ‘Stalingrad’), but really they’re so sparsely used that the impression they make while present is immediately forgotten in the ensuing tide of perpetual blast beats and tremolo riffs.

I’m not going to say that this album isn’t enjoyable; it is, but it’s in a very primitive way.  It’s fairly professional and catchily composed but there’s no actual depth to speak of, as once you’ve heard these songs the first time, you won’t be learning anything new with the next spin of the CD.  It’s numbingly simple music wrapped in a pretty transparent shawl of vast riffing and occasional keyboard intrusion, but none but the simplest listeners are going to find it somehow greater than the sum of its parts.  The riffs are good, the drumming is fast and consistent, and the vocals are reasonably hateful (though a tad weak in delivery), so it is for all intents and purposes a satisfactory black metal album, but giving it anything more than a very halfhearted recommendation would be rather disingenuous.  It’s a moderately good album, but I wouldn’t go at all out of my way to pick it up.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2008.

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