Schafott - The Black Flame 01Welcome, AMG Readership, to our sanguinary sect of worship. Feel at home in our black conventicle as we anathematize all of those who oppose us. Don’t summon the Devil, don’t call the priest. If you need the strength, then conjure Germany’s Schafott, whose debut album, The Black Flame, is set to smolder the soul with classic blackened thrash. Eschewing the norm, Schafott aren’t a band content to only dabble in the rough riffage of Venom and Bathory but have also greedily delved into traditional metal as a salient conduit for these umbra orchestrations. Armed with a collection of disturbingly delicious Satan prayers, The Black Flame is rife with enough ripping rhythms to turn 1986 green with envy.

What Schafott champions, above all else, is thrash. The integrity of the material’s structure owes a musical debt to the proto-black metal stylings of early Kreator and Slayer just as much, if not more than the usual Hellhammer worship. While I’m no Mark Z, I love black-thrash and having blindly cast the promo runes, I was pleasantly surprised to find The Black Flame pulsing with an urge to conduct black metal’s thematics, not through fuzzed-out brutish guitar lines, but through the spectrum of a well-engineered riff. After a brief intro, “Ostara” ignites the record and the thrash influences soon become clear. Guitarists, Molester and Wraith’s rhythms borrow the same pervasive tone that made Hell Awaits such a morbid classic, before breaking into an almost neo-classical lead. Darkly harmonic chord-progressions occasionally dance amidst the verses and it’s soon apparent that Watain‘s brand of lawless black metal is what informs Schafott‘s Luciferian leanings.

The title track tears through a perpetuation of sandblast thrashing and taught bass, while “Azazael’s Dream” rolls the dice for an array of tempos, deliberate in its first quarter before re-launching into full faculty. The leads cast over the precise riffing writhe with melody whilst never overstaying their welcome, laboring to highlight the transitioning riff work with the occasional Maiden-esque twin harmony. “Total Cleansing” ups the ante further with complimentary gallops and a clear nod to the Iron institution in the song’s overtly harmonized rhythms. As is the nature of the beast, save for the classic speed metal tropes occasionally cast into the cauldron, The Black Flame doesn’t feature a lot of variation. Although the album’s entirety maintains its high standard, some of the cuts, despite their impact, do overrun, and so, in turn, does the album. Although I can understand Schafott‘s willingness to buck the genre trend and deliver less rabid, yet more focused material, by the time I come to the penultimate and bloated “Sow the Salt,” I’m eyeing the record’s finish. Fortunately, closer, “Satan’s Throne,” is one of the album’s better songs with a clear, neck-wrecking end in sight.

Schafott - The Black Flame 02

Schafott haven’t skipped a beat on the production. Sounding every bit as analogue as their obvious peers, The Black Flame wouldn’t be out of place sharing shelf space with your favorite 80’s output. The mix makes a point of showcasing Nemesis’ bass lines and dutifully never multi-layers the guitars. The organics don’t stop there, though, as vocalist and skinsman, Assassor’s frenetic drumming is as retro as possible — the enjoyment of which will come down, in no small part, to individual taste, but by comparison, closely echo the hollow snare sound Ventor weaponized on Pleasure to Kill. Although his harsh rasps don’t add much individualism, Assassor tears through each track with plenty of savage abandon, his exuberance on the shout along chorus of “By the Lust of the Witch” clear for all the coven to hear.

Coming into this review, I had no prior experience with Schafott and thus The Black Flame was a fine surprise, scratching an itch I wasn’t even aware I had. Deliberately retreading old ground, Schafott have proven that quality will always out, despite the burgeoning ranks of thrash and its blackened progeny. This isn’t a defining or even redefining sound, and nor is it intended to be; this is thrash metal with enough occult identity to summon the dead before blazing them alight with hell-riffs of yore. Purveyors of metal’s more modern aesthetic might not mine too deeply here, but fans of Hellripper will surely find something to indulge and indulge you must — The Dark Lord demands it, and you’re not better than Satan. Obey!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller Records
Websites: schafott.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/schafott
Releases Worldwide: August 25th, 2017

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  • wayne the devil

    Did somebody Conjure me?

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    THIS IS SO BLACK AND THRASHY. AOY CONTENDER!

    • sir_c

      Yo momma

  • Uishido

    so I have to buy the CD to get this? there seems to be now way of buying the digital version on that bandcamp page…

    • wayne the devil

      I thought High Roller had a bandcamp page….seem to remember buying from that label…or a memory steeped in an out of control Metal buying habit….

    • Morbidly Obese Angel

      It really irks me that there are still labels and/or bands that refuse to sell music digitally. Get with the times nerds!!

    • Thatguy

      I have had a look here and there and there seems to be only a physical release.

      Fuck ’em. I liked this but not enough to buy another piece of plastic at excessive cost.

      • Uishido

        I did order Sea of Ignorance on CD but I wanted that a lot more…

        • Thatguy

          I will buy the odd CD if I must, but it really shouldn’t be necessary.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Thank you for introducing me to the word conventicle. The true meaning is much cooler than my initial guess of, “Popemobile for nuns.”

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Thank Dave.

      • defjam

        Why? He has denounced the song.

    • Kronos

      I see this is your first time at my conventicle.
      You better not talk if you came here for semantics

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I am also grateful for being introduced to the word conventicle. And now I am left wondering why there is no band named Conventicle. Maybe it’s too awkward a word to yell at shows?

      • sir_c

        I think confusing it with ‘convertible’ would be too easy.
        Makes one wonder what a pink conventicle comprises though

      • WhamBamSam

        Tentacle Coventicle (or vice versa) would be a good name for a cheesy Lovecraft-themed band.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Or a Japanese tentacle porn movie.

    • METAL OTTER

      For more conventicle, make sure to catch the next episode of ‘Pope my Ride’!

  • MITCH TRVBISKY

    I spent the entire length of the embedded track trying to figuer out what exactly is on that Rorschach looking ass album cover.

    Track rips though!

    • sir_c

      the longer you watch the more intriguing it gets actually

  • Planex

    I’m gonna listen to some Megadeth and then check this out.

  • WhamBamSam

    Funny you should mention Hellripper. I’ve been trying to give more black thrash a chance since falling head over heels for Coagulating Darkness, despite my usual deep disinterest in anything too black metal, but haven’t really had much success. I had high hopes based on this review, but the embedded track didn’t do much for me. I don’t really see the need to dilute Pleasure To Kill with less interesting blackened tremolo lines.

  • Zrinko Maloseja

    this song! fuck ME! *punch in the face*

  • Westpaceagle

    I have a ton of new releases to get through but this is near the top. Any friend of deth’ is a friend of mine