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SCHAFOTT - The Black Flame (2017) CD

SCHAFOTT - The Black Flame (2017) CD
Brand: High Roller
Product Code: CD
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Black-thrash hopefuls Schafott hail from Dresden/Saxony. The four-piece have been around since 2011, released a demo in 2014 and are now presenting the world with their first full-length effort. Drummer Assassor tells us what we need to know about the early days of his band, and, most important, about what they sound like: “Molestor and I met just for fun and we had the idea to create a Treblinka tribute band. I had always been fascinated by this dark, sinister and raw approach to music. We rehearsed for some time and got back in touch with our old friend Wraith and suddenly everything changed. We started to fuse this aggression-focused music with – let’s say – melancholy-driven melodies. This special feeling has driven us since then. I think I can say this was the actual moment when Schafott really started. We wrote the first couple of songs and got more and more serious with this band. After a while (during which we had a bassist who didn’t really fit in) we found Nemesis, who finally completed the band. Most of us played in other bands before, Nemesis in Venatoris, Wraith in Roadkill and me in Chörny J Woron. We all profited a lot from playing in these bands and I cannot mention Roadkill often enough, for their over-the-top speed metal approach. Most of us are still involved in other projects, namely Black Thyria and Abyssous.”
And where exactly are Schafott from? Some say Dresden, some say Chemnitz, but what is right? Assassor clarifies this with some vehemence: “3/4th of us originate from Chemnitz, but Dresden is where we live and rehearse. TOO MANY SKELETONS!!!”
Schafott’s debut LP bears the promising title “The Black Flame”, and Assassor tells us what the album is all about: “The new album is named after a very important song from a very important state of our creative process. We’ve always been looking for that feeling of incessant aggression, incorporating melodic variances that simply know no boundaries. There is no explicit congruent lyrical theme running throughout the album. However, our lyrics, as various as they are – ranging from the very hope of thermonuclear cleansing to metaphoric views on traditional forms of cohabitation – focus on ‘blasphemous’ forces and their excesses.”
Asked for Schafott’s most important influences, Assassor gives another very decided answer: “Schafott stands on its own! I mean, of course we are individuals, listening to a wide range of music, but I couldn’t name a single band that really has influenced my musical creation with Schafott. Wraith would like to mention Pestilence here, and I’d heavily back him up. But seriously spoken, we all have been into metal now since our early teen years and it’s useless to count up all the classics. For the songwriting we want to be as free (in our earthly limits) as possible. But if you ask me to name a band that sounds like Schafott, I would say Doomsayer (Italy), simply because of their roughness and their melodic approach.”
Schafott got some very nice reviews for their enormously convincing demo “Satan’s Throne”. It also was a “Demo of the Month” in German Deaf Forever magazine. What has changed for Schafott since the demo has been released? “Sorry I can’t really tell the ‘main difference’ of the times before and after the demo. What really improved with the demo was A) the recognition of the band, B) the serious interest that was taken in us, C) seeing people recognizing song structures. We’ve always been asking ourselves the question where the songs would go and what kind of structure lies beyond. That was what we’ve been looking for with Schafott! Fuck off to conventional structures! (of accessible bang-a-long so-called-metal, I mean).”
The demo was recorded ca. two years before it was released on tape via MetalPunxRex. Assassor explains why it took the band so long to get it out: “That was all thanks to Matze! He did a great job and left us all the freedom we needed. It seems like we are a rather slow band when it comes to completing our releases. This is caused by two major obstacles: 1) we all are involved into several other projects and besides that have normal jobs. 2) We are real perfectionists and don’t give too many things into other hands. These two together make for a rather thick brew that makes things simply not go so fluidly.”
One reviewer said Schafott sounded like “occult black thrash which drank all the beer when we were not lookin”, plus a definite hardcore punk vibe and excellent guitar work that is heavily inspired by classic Heavy Metal / NWOBHM. Would Assassor agree with that description? “Haha…I think I’ve read that one! We are still struggling with this term of black+thrash…most of the bands that are considered that kind of music nowadays couldn’t even deliver what KREATOR did in their later phase!!! Don’t get us wrong, there are great bands that really play amazing thrash, like Division Speed, Hellish Crossfire, Witching Hour…. They make solid and distinct contributions to that kind of music. Concerning the other things he said about us: Invite us and we’ll see… But seriously, for sure we love the new wave classics like Satan, Witchfynde, Holocaust, Blitzkrieg, Virtue, Jaguar, Maiden and so on…but I think this urge to “file under” just comes from a lack of open-mindedness.”
Be it black-thrash or not, how far does the “The Black Flame” differ from the demo? Has Schafott’s approach to writing and recording music changed since the demo came out? Not so much: “The main difference for us is: The songs are finally out, as we (again, just as it was the case with the demo) needed quite some time from recording to release. The songs are more what Schafott is like for us. But half of the songs have been ready at the time of the demo recordings. We simply didn’t want to have all songs on the demo already. Therefore only two songs from ‘Satan’s Throne’ will be featured on ‘The Black Flame’, but in different versions. The other material is completely new and unreleased.”
What’s interesting about Schafott is that Assassor does not only handle the drums, but also the lead vocals. What kind of effect does that have in terms of song writing and dynamics on stage? “It doesn’t affect the song writing at all. I think the outcome would be the same, even if I wasn’t singing. Yet it affects the live feeling. I think the drums and the vocals get way more raging live, as these two parts goad each other and bring me into a very aggressive mood. On the other hand technical finesse during live gigs may suffer a bit, at least drumming-wise. But as I said, the roughness increases. That’s what matters to us most when we play live.” Assassor also explains how Schafott write their music: “We try to include all members in the creative process. Everyone can throw in ideas and we work on whatever feels right. Nevertheless, there is for sure a creative axis in the band that may be more productive, but we arrange most of the riffs together and want to create our music as a whole band, as Schafott is bigger than the separated individuals.”
The recordings for “The Black Flame” were done in Schafott’s own rehearsal room and in the ‘Lava Vault’ in Chemnitz: “We were able to use equipment from Time and Dust studio in Chemnitz and from another one in Dresden, which helped creating a very satisfying sound. We tried to do everything ourselves to have complete control over the whole process. But as said above, we always pay a price for this. Jonty Lava (Heretic, Abyssous) helped us a lot with everything and did a great job with mixing the album. We are very thankful for all the effort put into this release by all the people involved. The mastering was done by Patrick W. Engel, whose work and music we highly respect. This really rounded everything off.”
Assassor also reveals himself as a fan of the label his own band is now on, and he reports how Schafott made it onto the High Roller roster: “Krugi, who was working at High Roller Records at the time, was very excited about the demo. He wanted to offer us a deal with his own label right after the release. We then talked with Melle form HRR and he was also very much into the demo and introduced the idea of a release on HRR. As we are long-time friends with Melle and also Steffen is a great guy, we agreed right away. We think HRR is an outstanding label and releases so many great bands and records. My personal collection really grew a lot thanks to HRR releases.”
Assassor stated above that he doesn’t really like Schafott being called a black-thrash band – yet this kind of metal has become quite popular in the last couple of years, and many would count Schafott as a part of it. So it seems justified to ask him about this personal opinion about the scene and the bands he find most interesting and inspiring. Here’s his reply: “I think this black thrash thing has been going on since the early 2000’s. But there are always small waves with higher amplitudes. As I said before, I don’t really like this musical label in particular, as it is mostly misleading and overused. One band that would really deserve this label would be Morbid Insulter, as they had a serious black feeling in their music. Apart from that, I’d prefer black OR thrash. However, these days the scene is very strong regardless of the drawbacks of our time, like plastic bands, internet hypes, copy cats and mere fashion metal heads, who are more interested in the looks than in the music. This strength comes from the bunch of people that are aware of these problems and rise above it with passion for music and disgust for insincerity. Especially here in Saxony we have an incredibly vivid scene with bands like Evil Warriros(!), Heretic, Division Speed, Archaic Thorn, II, Bloody Vengeance, Purgatory, Vidargängr, Goat Explosion, Ascension, Black Salvation and so many worthy bands popping up all the time. Furthermore, there are many good small labels appearing and it also seems as if there are good venues and people interested in organizing special gigs. This is of course not only true for Saxony, but also for the rest of the country.”
That is great to hear! But let’s get back to “The Black Flame” again, and especially to the cover artwork. How is it related to the record’s theme, and who is the artist behind it? “The cover turned out just great! We are so grateful and can’t thank Patricia Huck enough for her art. We tried to find a way to visualize the lyrics and the overall feeling of ‘The Black Flame’. She listened carefully to our vision and she perfectly captured it in the painting. We had the opportunity to be part of the creation process and to always review the current state. This is normally a pain for an artist, but Patricia was unbelievably patient with us. The result still gives us goosebumps. The also did the woodcarving, and she helped us a lot with the band photos. The complete layout was then done by Conny Cobra, who again did an overwhelmingly great job. She has a very refined eye and sense for composition. Besides that, she is the one when it comes to calligraphic art.” Apart from all that great art, the album also contains some special features – but definitely no frills or frippery: “There will be a 4-page inlay with the calligraphic lyrics and some info plus band pics, etc. It looks great. Besides that, I have no idea. But we aren’t the biggest fans of pointless gimmicks anyway. It makes sense from time to time to have some special features, but who needs bottle openers and what not with every release? I don’t like philatelists that much. But you know, a really special feature will be the guest vocals done by Paul Schlesier from Black Salvation”
And finally, Assassor has an interesting announcement to make: “There will (hopefully) be a very special release gig with some other bands in the Erzgebirge at the ‘Orgelpfeifen’ (organ pipes) of the Scheibenberg, a natural stone monument which is closely related to the cover art of “The Black Flame” Watch out for this in late summer. Plus, we are now planning on a 7’’ and we are focussing on new songs. It’s simply great to finally have time again for the creative part. Thanks for the interview and the interest in Schafott. Thanks to everyone for reading this and supporting us.”

Ulrike Schmitz

1. Ostara
2. The Black Flame
3. Azazaels Dream
4. Eucharistic Birth
5. Total Cleansing
6. By the Lust of the Witch
7. Satans Throne
8. Sow the Salt

Listen!

Publisher Info
Format CD
Label High Roller
Released 2017
MPN HRR 502 CD
Box Jewel case
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