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Sammath - Godless Arrogance
Review: Sammath streamlines their warlike metal to offer a stripped-down high-speed assault that combines the dark melodic understructure of black metal with charging tremolo death metal in the Morbid Angel or Vader style. At this speed, the riff-salad approach of traditional death metal would become a muddle, so the band focuses on a handful of ripping riffs per song and uses structural branching to create dialogue between the main verse-chorus pair and the Slayer-style introduction/transition riffs that accompany it.
Godless Arrogance shows the culmination of an approach that Sammath has been attempting to perfect for four albums. Strijd revealed an archly elegant melodic sense paired with underlying violence, switching between the two like early Entombed varied between pounding d-beat ambient riffs and melodic architectures derived from John Carpenter soundtracks. During the 2000s the band refined its attack by blending in more intensely violent and simplified death metal, refining its rhythmic attack while preserving its tendency to balance that onslaught with longer melodies in the style of bands like Summoning but without breaking into the placid atmosphere such bands create.
In this triumphant return, Sammath unites its two disparate approaches. The melodies have become shorter and the rhythm riffs more melodic, creating a flow of continuously changing harmonic texture similar to that of Immortal Pure Holocaust and Darkthrone Transilvanian Hunger. Drumming is violent martial battery without the bounce of rock; percussion here is more like punk, hard-driving intensity to channel the guitars, which alternate between abrupt chromatic confrontation in the Demoncy style to gentle unfolding melodies much like were found on Strijd. Bass folds into the guitar, and vocals are the high-volume bluster that reduces distorted vocals to a sound like a whisper spoken close to a microphone in high wind.
As a result, Sammath emanates incessant and unrelenting conflict but also reveals inner life of melody that gives it depth and allows it to manipulate riff context like a death metal band while evoking ambient atmosphere in the best tradition of black metal. Compared to Strijd, this most recent album seems more like integrated black metal than a band cycling between Angelcorpse-style ripping death metal riffs and Bathory-style black metal melodies. Vicious, pounding and with an underlying core of sonority that reveals a hidden world, Godless Arrogance renews life in the black metal tradition.