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Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Schavot – Galgenbrok

Label: Void Wanderer Productions / War Productions

Date: October 1st, 2021

This one-man band is a brainchild of Mr. Floris, an established figure on the Dutch black metal scene, with his role in Asgrauw, Meslamtaea and others. So, the necessity for yet another black metal band is not quite clear at first. Still, the need for an extra project came out of the plagued year 2020. A bit more time on his hands resulted in “Galgenbrok”. Yet again, this raises another eyebrow. We are all witnesses to countless formations coming out of pure boredom. Up to a point where you can clearly hear and just leave annoyed from the fact.

However, on this particular occasion, Floris did the job properly. Okay, some parts of “Galgenbrok” could have easily been used in Asgrauw, since these are bands close enough in style. Still, they are not so close as to cause confusion.

The style is, of course, second wave black metal. The Scandinavian kind, naturally. But this comes enriched. Okay, the basis of these riffs comes straight from the mid 90’s Norway. Bands such as Darkthrone or Satyricon. Lifting it up are the melodies that summon a more atmospheric side of the era. Way up high, you can hear the epic approach of Emperor at their best.

And just so it’s not all old school, there are some modern day black metal tendencies to be heard on occasion. The acoustic / distorted dual guitars, not so subtle keyboards evoking much more than Emperor ever tried.

Ulver is up there somewhere, too. Enslaved in their early stages. And a whole lot more, but I’m getting tired of the name-dropping.

The point is, Schavot is not afraid to show their influences. They are clear and Floris is certainly not ashamed of them. Yet, the man found a way to work around them somehow. Hence, Schavot is above any third-rate copycat. There is an undisputed identity to be recognized here. First and foremost in the melodic sketches of lead guitars and keyboards. These do not follow established patterns and are free to swerve around as much as it is necessary. When it is not, Schavot easily dives down into the early black metal primitivism. Just to make a point.

So, apart of the nature-like ambience that surrounds this whole album, with its soothing silence, there is more than enough peril on that road. Fogs that dim down the path ahead, drizzling rains that wash away the filth of nowadays living and the freezing winters that come to reap whatever and whomever is caught in them. All four seasons are kept within “Galgenbrok”.

For the very end, I must say that the cover painting is the strongest link to Asgrauw, especially with the color scheme used by Johan Prenger. But! One important thing to note here. Those paintings done by Jeroen Putman for Asgrauw are, in my humble opinion, among the best covers for black metal releases in ages. And Mr. Prenger did one hell of a job giving color to this already colorful release.

Altogether, Schavot may have come out of spare time, but “Galgenbrok” is well thought through and executed marvelously!