Sunday, August 11, 2013

Album Review: Sannhet - Known Flood

Known Flood cover art
Album Rating: B+
Hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y., Sannhet has managed to brew up a following the hard way. As in business, initial investment pays dividends, and the post-black metal trio has parlayed an intense touring schedule and wicked live show into a growing fan base in only a few years. Sannhet’s debut album, Known Flood, distills all of this work into a 45-minute barrage that falls somewhere between early Isis and U.S. Black Metal acts like Krallice (whose guitarist Colin Marston recorded the album). Known Flood is about as spot-on as any title could be: the songs here ebb and flow from devastating metallic bursts to long periods of ambience and percussion-driven interludes. Early cut “Invisible Wounds” begins with a bizarre, spacey Sprechstimme piece that sounds like an incantation sung through a box fan, then transitions suddenly into pounding tom-toms and guitar distortion, in a fitting encapsulation of the album’s sound.

Sannhet’s assembly of these songs, which generally hover in the four to seven minute range, sounds almost primeval – there are hazy radio broadcasts, juxtaposed guitar harmonics, and all manner of delay-riddled sounds that bring to mind Venom’s “In League with Satan” in equal turn with post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “Slow Ruin” has perhaps the most intense peak here, riding blast-beat drumming and restlessly shifting chord structures, but opens humbly with sounds of rushing water that tie into the album’s flood theme. Working in Sannhet’s favor is its willingness to keep things succinct, as the bevy of intricately-assembled samples throughout Known Flood could be exhausting in more idle hands. There are few complaints to be made about the actual performances here, as drummer Christopher Todd carries the album with creative percussion arrangements and guitarist John Reffano lays down solid, if genre-typical, melodic lines.

Despite being an instrumental act, Sannhet fills the space normally occupied by vocals admirably with impressionistic soundscapes. Set between a pair of seven-minute behemoths, “Haunches” is a claustrophobic outburst that decompresses around the three-minute mark into what sounds like an answering machine recording of a train going through a windy mountain passage. Therein lies the beauty of Known Flood – Sannhet gives little concrete to hold onto, but just enough for your imagination to complete the puzzle. By the time “Still Breathing” comes along, with a fickle introductory bass line courtesy of AJ Annunziata and an anxiety-piquing speech sample, you’re locked into the atmosphere and the following onrush of black metal becomes a stirring climax. Perhaps there’s nothing particularly revelatory about mating Black Cascade to F♯A♯∞, but Sannhet has come up with a consistently engaging album in Known Flood. Those who worship Neurosis and lament the incest of USBM will have a ball with Sannhet, and really, Known Flood ought to be of interest to anyone who enjoys both the darkly intense and avant-garde.

Sannhet on Bandcamp
Sannhet on Facebook

Track Listing:

1. Absecon Isle
2. Safe Passage
3. Invisible Wounds
4. Endless Walls
5. Moral
6. Slow Ruin
7. Haunches
8. Still Breathing
9. Flatlands

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