Album Review – (0) – Skamhan

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Since its inception in the early 80s, black metal has continued to diversify and add new elements to the original blueprint, often infuriating “trve” fans who believe there are rigid rules to how the artform should be portrayed. Artists such as Deafheaven and Myrkyr have demonstrated how the influence of black metal can create something unique and altogether different from the genre’s originators like Bathory and Mayhem.

Danish black metal outfit (0) this week lifts the veil for their debut album, released on Napalm Records, titled SkamHan. The album adds progressive and psychedelic strains to the mix and often ventures away from any black metal influence completely. The lyrics are in Danish and delivered with ferocity by vocalist (FJ). Yes, the band, completed by (JU) – Guitars, (MA) – Guitars, (JK) – Drums and (MC) – Bass, do use the bracketed initials throughout!

First single, Skarntyder, is “about people who already as children are branded as difficult and weak, and scorned by society” say the band. Originally, written at a faster tempo, the musicians chose to slow things down to create more of a sludgy groove. The guttural vocals give the performance a refreshing earthiness while the post-metal influences ensure that nothing becomes predictable.

Skwarderyder is one of the most dynamic moments on the album, although it loses some of its potential due to a production that pushes the guitar way up in the mix, sacrificing the impact of the rhythm section as a result. Occasionally the guitar sound is overtly shrill and definitely lessens the intensity of the music. However, it’s clear that (0) have some lofty ambitions and are searching for their own sound within the realms of extreme music, while remaining adventurous with the textures within the songs.

As a debut, Skamhan is perhaps not as fully-formed as the Danes may have liked but it does introduce us to a band whose future is certainly worth keeping an eye on. When they hit their stride on this release, the combination of ferocious vocals and intricate musicianship deliver something undoubtedly impressive. If they can add more creativity to the songwriting, album number 2 could be something altogether more essential.

Steve Gerrard

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