Sammath - Godless Arrogance [Hammerheart Records - 2014]Sammath’s fifth full-length Godless Arrogance is the band’s first release since their previous album five long years ago. Continuing along the same vein as their earlier output, Sammath marries pummeling death metal with more aggressive elements of Swedish black metal in an effort to wage all-out war against humanity.
I’ll admit to paying little attention to the band’s previous album. I gave Triumph in Hatred a try on YouTube but the thing just didn’t catch. Mixing black and death metal sounds like a fantastic idea in theory, but it’s actually fairly difficult in practice. Like so many other attempts to fuse the two styles, there was just something off with Triumph in Hatred – something that just left me cold. Maybe the band has upped its game here or maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to a lot more death metal lately, whatever it is, Godless Arrogance has hit my sweet spot.
In your mind, imagine what it would sound like if Marduk and Mortician had a lovechild. Unchained aggression? Check. Riffs that are both insidiously wicked and bone-crunchingly brutal? Yup. Frantic drumming? Uh-huh. A vocalist vomiting sheer hatred? Oh yeah.
There seem to be two approaches to doing black/death metal. The first is to utilize black and death metal as two separate tools to batter and torture the listener into submission. The second is to melt the two styles down and combine them into one terrible force. Sammath chooses to follow the latter school of thought and uses plenty of terrific black/death riffs to back their ideas up. Opener “Shot in Mass” is the first of eight punishing tracks and shows what Sammath is all about. Dark, writhing black/death rhythm work is built upon by layering chaotic black metal tremolos on top while Kruitwagen shrieks, stories of pure hate like a deranged doomsayer. Much of the album is a nonstop face-ripper, but there are moments like the brutal, mid-paced march of “Thrive in Arrogance” that attempt to provide some variation. The labyrinthine riffs and structure on “Nineteen Corpses Hang in the Mist” are pretty cool, but I was hoping for a more distinct closer from these dudes after the previous seven ripping songs.
Except for that relatively minor quibble, Godless Arrogance is an exceptional release. Solid mixing and a nice full production round out the band’s input for a satisfyingly authentic sound. Yeah, it would have been nice if there had been moments given for bassist Nillesen to shine, but I’ll take what’s given to me. The album could definitely have been longer. At thirty-six minutes I was just getting warmed up and I wish they had put maybe ten more minutes of material into this release. Ah well, better to be too short than too long, eh? Long story short – this album rips. Fans of extreme metal in general should eat this album up. Even though the band is twenty years old, I have the feeling that they’re just getting started. Tyler L.