There’s a lot of excitement behind Known Flood. It’s the debut album from Brooklyn-based band Sannhet (not to be confused with an imploded Norwegian-based band of the same name). It’s produced by Colin Marsten of Krallice fame. The record is also the first release from Sacrament Music, a label based out of the famous New York bar Saint Vitus. I, as perhaps was the case with many other people, first heard Sannhet’s music in Invisible Orange’s preview feature back in January. Since then, I had been eagerly anticipating the album’s release. The end result: despite some notable moments, the album is not as powerful or as interesting as early previews suggested it might be.
Some of the tracks found on Known Flood are really good, but the rest of the album is simply okay. Opening track “Absecon Isle” is one of the highlights. If anyone asked me to generate a “best of” list of blackened metal tracks from this decade, it would be on there. Second track “Safe Passage” has a catchy percussive stomp to it, and “Invisible Wounds” starts with an ambient build-up before moving into heavier and more aggressive territory. They are three great tracks with which to begin the album. Drummer and sampler Christopher Todd mixes the propellent d-beats of crust punk and black metal with the more floaty grooves of a lot of metallic post-rock, providing a heavy weight to the music that keeps it grounded even when John Refano‘s airy guitars and A.J. Annunziata‘s bass threaten to float away. “Slow Ruin” is a later track that exemplifies the band’s use of nosier, more ambient moments, and it’s here that comparisons to Altar of Plagues are both valid and welcome. “Endless Walls,” on the other hand, meanders, feeling more like an experiment in mixing noise and metal than a finished result. “Haunches” has its moments, but the addition of shrieked vocals that that are low in the mix is more annoying than interesting. “Still Breathing” is a big climax that fails to stand out before leading into “Flatlands,” an anti-climatic noise outro.
Known Flood mixes together some of the best parts of black metal, sludge, post-rock, and noise music. These are sub-genres which have generated a whole host of their own clichés, and Sannhet don’t really do anything different with them other than stick them together. For example, while the use of sampled dialogue and sounds throughout the album may lead to a more entrancing live show, given how often they appear in this kind of blended metal they’re actually pretty tiring when used here. Thus encapsulates the central issue I have with Sannhet’s Known Flood: it’s certainly not bad, but with the exception of a few tracks, the band’s culling from many sub-genres doesn’t add up to anything we haven’t heard many, many times from a variety of artists over the past few years. If the band can find a way to transcend their derivative origins and break the mould, however, they might become a lasting testament to their Brooklyn scene within the broader metal world.