Sammath Interview by Ben Spencer

It’s been a busy career for German Black Metal band Sammath, having rolled a unique blend of Black, Death, Thrash and Speed metal all into one package their fifth release Godless Arrogance attains the next milestone in their 20 year journey and is said to be their most vicious output yet. After being blown away by the this 8 track offering, recently released on Hammerheart Records, it was time to get behind the music as Sammath reveal their story in the music scene so far.

Jan Kruitwagen, all guitars, vocals
Ruud Nillesen, bas Koos Bos, drums

So you guys have been around since 1994, could you tell us a bit about your story as a band and how far you feel you have come since then?

Sammath was a one man band at the very beginning in 1994, then I met someone who owned a studio and he was with the band for two years. Problem with him was that he only saw it as a hobby, to me it’s much more. After the third album Sammath became a proper band, and we did a handful of live shows.  The music kind of developed slowly per cd for a typical strange black metal band to a hybrid of all metal styles (thrash, black, death, grind, war metal…) In our twenty years of existence I never really had a set goal, all I wanted to do was record the best possible black metal cd I could, we have now done that.

Sammath - Godless Arrogance
Godless Arrogance is said to be your most vicious release so far, what makes this album different from your previous releases?

Everything just seemed to work out perfectly on this album. Some bands have that luck the first album, and it only goes downhill from there. We are lucky enough to get better with each album. The song writing on this album is finally the way it should be. I think that we are lucky in that aspect, if bands get worse, or start to sound repetitive they should just stop.  I’ve always wanted to record a totally vicious black metal cd with no compromise whatsoever, and we have. It just took me a long time to get to that level where it sounds totally insane, but in some way very structured.  Some hate it because it’s just 36 minutes of pure blasting metal, no fills, intros, just pure madness.  The best thing, compared to our previous albums, are that the vocals are way more powerful, the drums sound great and the distortion on the bass now means it’s a total package up insanity, just how we wanted it to be.

Could you take me through the album artwork design, what is the meaning behind it and what does it represent for you guys?

The artwork is a picture of one of the landing beaches during D day. The lack of colour,  and the fact that you know shits going to happen really appealed to us. There are no corpses to be seen, nothing living, the only thing you see is the inevitability of something fucked up. You know when you see this album that it’s a metal album. I found this picture in a book about D day I was reading.  It also represents the music you are about to hear. One moment there is silence, next moment there is a black metal onslaught.  I don’t like most black metal covers, or it’s a lame forest or some drawing of a goat.  For fucks sake bands, grow some balls and think for yourself!

With the release of your new album are there any tours in the pipeline?

We can go on tour just about when we want since we are with Hammerheart records.  Biggest hurdle is that we are all very busy with family and work. Most of us are self-employed.  We plan to go on tour at the end of the next winter. It’s not easy getting all these tracks done live. We can play them all, it’s more condition at the moment. After three or four tracks we are all totally exhausted, so we must improve this first. I must visit the gym more often.  We go on tour being able to reproduce the cd 100% or we stay home.

Sammath Interview
Could you tell me about some of themes and lyrical content behind your music?

All of the lyrics on this album deal with war, mankind’s pathetic religions and the greatness of arrogance. Standing above all and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks of you. It’s a pretty screwed up way of thinking and probably very irritating to most, but I believe more in not giving a shit about anyone’s opinion then writing lyrics like 99% of all other black metal bands. Better to write about what you truly believe or think important then to follow the herd. I love the way just not giving a fuck gives you, or at least me, a great sense of power. Being self-employed has a lot to with this as well. I have no boss, except my wife…

Has there been any particular memorable live experience that stands out for you guys? If so what made this special?

That would be our first live show at Under the black sun. The live band got together ten times to learn a set list of nine tracks.  In two months we got our shit together. It was more nerve wrecking than a great experience. I have many more memories  of live shows I visited standing in the pit, with great stories, when you play live  you usually end up tuning your guitar 50 times and try to remain sober.  I don’t like that at all, waiting.

You guys recently joined up with Hammerheart Records, how has this experience been so far?

It’s totally insane. Since the release we have done interviews with many mayor print met magazines and some big online zines. Seeing whole page ads in print, the bands you share flyers with. Great that a band of our nature can get on a big label, you don’t see that much. We are extremely proud to be on the Hammerheart roster, I send them a demo in 1996, haha. 18 years later they call me, funny how things turn out. I didn’t hesitate for a second, I called by old label and they told me to grab the opportunity.

Your music is said to also incorporate thrash, speed and death metal. Was this something you always intended to be a part of your overall sound or was it something that happened naturally over time?

That simply happened, the first Sammath album was pretty strange black metal, with keyboards.  As I  kept on going the music started to turn into a mix of black, death, thrash and speed metal. Maybe that’s why the music is diverse enough to interest people at the moment. It’s not standard black metal. That’s been done to many times. And in all honesty, I can’t write cold black metal. It’s just not my thing, I live for that kind of music, but I can’t write it.  Sammath seems to work best when we have fast tremolo riffing, heavily speed metal influenced. combined with pounding drums.

Are there any bands contemporary black metal bands at the moment that you particularly admire?

Not really. I listen to a lot of Summoning, Nails, Sad X, Kreator, not much black metal at all, at least not new ones. I don’t like much modern black metal, its way to clean. It all sounds like they are too busy with how they look then how the music sounds, no one really sounds pissed of anymore.  The best black metal band still has to turn up in my view. I listen to a lot of stuff, as long as its metal…

If you could play at any upcoming festivals this year which ones would they be and why?

Only one really, that’s under the black sun. The best underground festival in the world.  In the woods outside Berlin, it breathes black metal. Organized by the label I was with for 16 years, Folter Records.

What are your plans for the future?

Get this done live and keep Sammath rolling. We plan to do live shows this winter. Thing is, we all have insanely busy lives and getting this done perfectly takes a lot of time.

Is there anything you would like to add for our readers?

Support your local record dealer! Buys cds and vinyl you bastards!!