Grafjammer – Schalm & Schabauw (2018) REVIEW

Music from the Netherlands can be as just as difficult to navigate as if I were a dumb American tourist in a small village; I have no easy English translation for referential titles or locations so it can be a hilarious journey to understand the overall theme and statement of a record. The title here simply refers to where the band hails from and it’s history. But what could possibly be more ‘black metal’ than obscured communication? Grafjammer have the whole necro-hardcore punk thing going on too, so they’ve got extra points for being both enigmatically indecipherable and unapologetic! ‘Schalm & Schabauw’ is the second full-length from Utrecht born Grafjammer, a band that have made a small name for themselves mixing orthodox punk rock with black metal execution. This full length is not only 10 minutes longer than their previous record, but it largely tosses aside the melodic punk of their 2015 album ‘Koud Gemaakt’ in favor of crustier, bloodier black metal.

Without Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest covers to pad out the release we have what is the first real, complete vision of the band. The resulting album takes influences from melodic black metal and limited crust/hardcore punk influences alike and the result is actually closer to Impaled Nazarene‘s early days like ‘Latex Cult’ in many respects. Over the last couple of years Grafjammer’s sound has gained a sort of puked-out, bestial punk/black edge that they describe as “primitive Dutch necro-rock” and indeed there is a pleasing melodic-yet-sinister rocking quality to it all the same. Extreme metal created by punk-ass artists is always exciting because they’re largely able to diffuse pretentious ambitions for the sake of kinetic energy and succinct, impactful ideas. This is the strength of ‘Schalm & Schabauw’ where it gets in fast, punches your throat, slashes your inner thigh, and runs away laughing while you bleed to death unable to call for help.

In many ways Grafjammer’s early days are already reminding me of crust/extreme metal bands that evolved quickly like Martyrdöd, Hopelorn and Ancst while each developed a unique sound without losing their original vision. So, I see that same potential in Grafjammer here and hope they develop a more ‘blended’ vision of their melodic style of black metal with heavy punk elements. I would put them alongside one of my favorite outliers from last year, Dödsrit, in terms of bringing a different set of taste and influence to the throne of metal/punk for modern extreme metal. It is an exciting sound to see developed and executed. ‘Schalm & Schabauw’ is an album well worth jumping headfirst into.


Artist Grafjammer
Type Album
Released February 10th, 2018
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Drown the sleeping guard! 3.5/5.0

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