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Interview

Sammath – “If some hipster idiot doesn’t like it the smile on my face is just as big as getting album of the year”

There are still a lot of bands out there, who keep on releasing decent albums but don’t get the recognition they deserve due many different reasons. And maybe it is a subjective factor as well…recognition. If I name 5 bands and pass this one to 100 different people, guaranteed I will receive many different answers. So let me rephrase it…bands of which I think deserve more recognition and one of them is Black Metal act from The Netherlands: SAMMATH. It’s have been a couple of years since their fine album “Godless Arrogance” was released, so it is time to ask Jan Kruitwagen how things are going….(Ricardo)

“Godless Arrogance” was released in 2014 and is received very well by press and fans. Looking back; still satisfied with the album, the songs and how things worked out in general? Were there reviews you remember which made you very proud? And were there reviews which are absolutely bollocks in your opinion (maybe someone compared you with Gorefest, Moonspell and Samael…believe me, I’ve read some crazy comparisons throughout the years) .
Time goes by fast… Yes , im still satisfied with it. Usually the black hole I fall into after releasing a album  is just because its done and then you hear stuff you should have done better, or left out. But with Godless Arrogance its all good. I think with our type of music, which even most black metal people think is to dirty we should be damn satisfied where we are at now. Since we signed to Hammerheart the amount of sales and reviews interviews are pretty nuts. We spend a great 18 years with Folter Records, which was also great. The scene is still alive and kicking hard, its simply gotten so big that there are more idiots. So as you stated, some reviewers make crazy comparisons, but everybody writes review these days, so it’s not going to get better. We have been called a grindcore band, a death metal band. Its also hard to put one name on it as every albums has a different feel to it. But fuck me, if this isn’t black metal what is. Many people who bought the latest album cant stand the first album, and other way around. I just cant write the same type of black metal every time. The 6th album seems to be turning into a mix between the first and last.  Reviews that make me proud, many, even negative ones. If some hipster idiot doesn’t like it the smile on my face is just as big as getting album of the year.

Besides the CD and 12” vinyl release “Godless Arrogance” was also released by Zwaertgevegt on cassette. I know musicians who are excited about the fact their music is being released on cassette as well…maybe it is nostalgia or the physical part of the cassette as well as the artwork (which is different compared with CD and vinyl) and cassette case…Did you have the same idea when you received the offer to released it on tape?
I’ve known Alex for years and he is one dedicated dude. We got shitloads of offers to release it on tape, but he deserves it. Just this winter he was at almost all our shows, upfront, banging his bloody head of the entire set. Its different because the format is different, only reason. I still like playing tapes from the 80s. Its more nostalgia indeed though.  As I prefer vinyl and still buy cds.

In the mean time you have parted ways with long time drummer Koos Bos and replaced him with Wim van der Valk, known for his great work within Inquisitor and Centurian. Why did you decide to let Koos go (who is known for his insane drumming on the Sammath releases, Koos’ boots will be tough to fill) and how did you get in contact with Wim (who has definitely has the feet to fill those boots)? And how is the collaboration going so far?
With Koos it was simply time, the bloke didn’t have any. He has a big family, is self employed and just could not rehearse. So I had a very difficult phone call to make, because he was and still is one of my best mates. Wim called me and after we chatted I decided to build my own soundproof rehearsal room. When that was done we started to play. And when Wim walked in,  Ruud and I both had the feeling we had known the dude for years, in the short time he has been part of Sammath 1 1/2 year now, he’s become a damn good mate. It wasn’t easy for Koos, wasn’t easy for Wim to learn our music. But after just three evenings of rehearsals shit just worked out, you need that in a band, comradery.

The unavoidable question…What have you been up to with Sammath recently? Are you working on new material? Will it be a continuation of “Godless Arrogance” or does the addition of Wim van der Valk open new doors for you when it comes to song writing?
Writing new songs is going fast now. Having my own place to be able to play loud makes it all so much better. We had three live shows and were rehearsing like idiots all winter, not so much getting the songs right, but just endurance, playing this live, especially the songs from Godless Arrogance were killing me. It took me 6 months of daily practise of at least 1 hour to get this sounding like I wanted it to. I’d never done vocals and guitar on stage, so it was just a matter of rehearsing, till my fingers bled and my voice was gone. The addition of Wim,  who breathes metal helps out a lot in many ways. He has a very violent way of playing, this inspires me to write riffs and also his timing is bloody perfect. Listen to his band Inquisitor as you stated, for the best extreme thrash you’ll hear since the 80s.

Your other band, Kaeck released a great debut called “Stormkult”. Any news on them as well?
That entire Kaeck project was strange in a good way, Maarten from Kjeld send me some drums and six weeks later I wrote a entire cd. I bought a guitar of Michiel from TMDC the day I received those drum tracks, it was tuned in B, never played that before, and it fitted perfectly. The lyrics, cover, all done in 6 weeks. Mr Oovenmeester who did the vocals on cd is damn good at writing lyrics, also done in those 6 weeks. Insane, and the result killer. We got to perform the cd live at Under the black sun, with some guys from Kjeld, Winter of Sin and Standvast in the line-up, we all wish we had more time, but a new album will come for sure. The vinyl is out 11th march, damn good looking silver vinyl, Heathen Tribes from Greece is releasing it.

You’ve been around since 1994, saw the rise, fall and resurrections of many acts, many local scenes, formats of music, labels and the genre in general. If you look back it, could you point out some highlights and disappointments?

I thought the internet would be great for metal, and in some ways it was. You can order stuff you otherwise would have missed. I speak to people from all over the world every day. On the other hand you have so much utter shit being released that you mis the good stuff. And worst of all, if you have some news its drowned out my 666 other news items that day. So most new bands don’t get a chance at all. Strange really. I used to love tape trading, writing letters, selling my demo tapes. Id spend hours writing to maniacs worldwide, great times. But now you can write to thousand at the same time, but who really takes the time to read it?

What most disappointing to me is the influence political morons are getting on black metal, fuck of with you shit politics. Especially the far left, shutting down concerts, (the venues should also be ashamed of themselves, no backbone whatsoever) forcing their stupid dreamy worldview upon everyone. Mostly pathetic losers without a job or a working shower, living with mum and dad thinking they have a voice, fuck off. Political correctness is destroying everything. How the hell can anyone be offended if anyone has a different opinion, fucking pussies.  I love it when people don’t like me, or can’t stand my music. If by chance you get to talking, which usually happens. Maybe we can have a beer, mostly you end up having some great insights about someone else’s worldview/opinions, and you end up shitfaced 20 beers later together. Or you just differ  in some things, who cares. When I was young you didn’t even think about politics in metal, id have a beer with anyone of any colour. That’s wasn’t even a thing.  People seem to be stuck in their own little shitty groups, only strengthening each other, thus not even trying to understand the others opinion. I try to keep as central as possible, political wise. But for fucks sake, keep that shit out of our scene. And the worst thing of all is that most of them don’t even listen to real black metal… it’s like me having a opinion on rap lyrics, it’s not my field of expertise, haha, and I don’t give a flying fuck.  I get many great reactions, but also many negative ones, that bloke cant sing, it sounds like Immortal on crack, its generic, its boring, to fast, monotonous  bla bla bla, who gives a fuck, grow some balls you goddamn pussies! !

But to end on a positive note, metal is very much alive and kicking, so many different genres popping up, drone, shoegaze, suicidal, noise black metal. Hell I can’t stand that crap, but stagnation means death, so good on m.

Thanks for your time, Jan. We will certainly knock on your door again when Sammath has released some new material…
Speak to you end this year then!  Thanks for the interview and your support for underground metal! METAL TILL DEATH