Grafjammer - Schalm & Schabauw - (8/10)
Published on February 2, 2018
Though the band has been active for more than a decade, Grafjammer is just now unleashing their sophomore full length, Schalm & Schabauw. The band’s debut demo, Smeerenburgh, from 2012, and their first full length album, Koud gemaakt, from 2015, were both short bursts of heavily punkened black metal, not too dissimilar from the likes of Carpathian Forest and The Cult Is Alive-era Darkthrone. Hell, the debut album was on twenty minutes long and featured two tracks that were basically covers (of both previously mentioned bands, mind you), so it was a bit of a surprise to hear where Schalm & Schabauw takes Grafjammer.
While Schalm & Schabauw still retains a bit of that rollicking, black ‘n’ roll flair that made their earlier work so damn catchy, it takes a back seat to a more fiery and punishing approach to black metal. The result is a heavier affair without sacrificing that fantastic, swaggering edge of yore. Tracks like “Duistering” showcase a rock-ish lead lick that gives way to thundering percussion and walls of fiery tremolo riffing while the one two punch of “Haatgemaal” and “Hijs het lijk” go straight for the throat with chaotic, driving blackened metal with an oh-so-crusty vibe.
The instrumentation is much tighter this time around, as well. Jeroen and Jouter’s guitar work is impressive, melding swirling tremolo riffing with high octane blackened thrashing and slathering, vile crust; a fine accompaniment to Jelle’s thick, Lemmy inspired bass runs. Jorre’s vocals also sound more acerbic and vicious this time around, with his deep, sneering growl spitting what I can only assume is venom, solely in Dutch. The addition of new drummer, Jahwe (gotta keep that “J” thing going”, sees the band rounding out their sound quite nicely, as his performance is on point with rampant double bass runs and stomping, d-beat inspired soirees. The production is solid, leaving plenty of dirt and grime on the master, yet giving everything enough power to sound destructive all around.
Not fully turning on their heels from their previous sound, Grafjammer takes their black/crust sound and builds upon it. With a heavier, more blackened sound the band sounds all the more vicious. Somehow the band has yet to be picked up (aside from a limited run of cassettes of the debut through the German label Black Tapes), but Schalm & Schabauw should see this quickly corrected. While the band’s sound would be right at home among the Barbarian Wrath and Hells Headbangers type labels, Grafjammer’s latest work sees the band really coming into their own. This is definitely a band you’re going to want to keep an eye on.