Sammath – Across The Rhine Is Only Death (2019)

I read somewhere that metal as opposed to rock n roll is thought over feeling, meaning that the metal musician feels first and then reasons upon that initial feeling to come up with an expression of his intellect. It is hard to refute this in the face of compositions that go beyond the rudimentary to communicate a worldview, but I’m not convinced the separation between the two faculties is all that discrete; more likely that they share a symbiosis at every stage of the creative process – a skewed one perhaps where one dominates the other but a symbiosis all the same – until the result emerges filtered through levels of intuition and apprehension as a distinctly human endeavor.

In Sammath‘s case, that balance has never seemed more tilted in favor of the instinctual than on Across The Rhine Is Only Death. Consisting almost wholly of shapes of aggression spewed out just as soon as they take form, this album takes after the grand riff-stitching tradition of Massacra‘s Final Holocaust, Morbid Angel‘s Altars Of Madness, and Immortal‘s Battles In The North, albums that achieved teeth-jarring forward momentum through perfectly microcosmic riffs tunneled into breathless first-in-first-out formation and self-immolating on exit to contribute to multiple mini-crescendos in any given song. Texturally, Sammath utilize the jagged formulations of grindcore as a segue of white-knuckle intensity between phrases which, despite their frequently ephemeral and explosive nature, showcase surprising melodic nous; not of the operatic-romantic type, perhaps, but more by virtue of knowing the ideal note to begin and end on, when everything that goes in between, right and wrong, stands in abeyance, dissolved into a blanket of fear, and the only imperative left is survival.


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