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Album Review: TBA

Monday, December 10, 2012

Album Review: Bloody Hammers - Bloody Hammers

The cover should tip you off to what awaits inside. That watery purple font echoes those that adorn ’s Master Of Reality album and the candles, goat’s head and naked chick imply somebody’s been dabbling in witchcraft. Your imaginations will race but what you should expect is something of a watered-down version of that. It’s a debut album that drags you kicking and screaming back to a simpler time when minimalist mid-tempos, verse-chorus-verse structures and lyrical repetition dominated rock music. To that end, a dose of Sabbathian doom is threaded directly through ’s somewhat barmier take to grant the band a grimy, infectious drive mixed with an overpowering whiff of -esque cheese.

What really goes and spoils the backstory is ’ nagging emotional detachment to their music. Add to this failing, a paucity of originality, the upsettingly predictable path each song takes and the gaping holes where all its sweet riffs should be. Cyclical patterns can be used wittily, but here, time after time, the song-title merely forms the rusty pivot to the track. Take the dire opener “Witch Of Endor” with its undesirable, somewhat sad hook that will annoyingly glue itself to your skull – “Solution is raise the dead and find the conjuring Witch of Endor (raining in Hell) / Solution is raise the dead and find the conjuring Witch of Endor”. The three-chord, non-committal dullard “Fear No Evil” follows that up with a chorus of “Oh, fear no evil / Oh, fear no evil”. This criminal filler material is being promoted as the album’s selling points; they form their two front-of-house, straight-off-the-bat tracks. It blows me away. Call me a philistine but, after the tenth spin of this pair, I wanted to dig a hole and bury them both.

The lyrical themes, despite being a bit “out there” really aren’t at fault – it’s the slack, toothless delivery that lets the content down. The album’s foot-draggers like “Say Goodbye To The Sun” and “Don’t Breathe A Word” should be filling me with dread, soaking me in the bleak emotional turmoil of their creators, but there’s definitely something severely wrong. Ignoring the amateurish implementation, including that meandering church organ and those grim, sludge-soaked power chords, there is a distinct sense of drama. To engage the listener these songs require them to feel endangered, on edge, as if the players are just a tad unhinged. If they’re really aiming for an occult vibe then perhaps, it would all gel, if the songs were more engaging; perhaps sparked a little bit of bewilderment. Those on offer are crying out for the dark crackle, the mad twists and enormity of tone that and so many of their peers and offspring have conjured. need to embrace their crazy.

These North Carolinians certainly know their historical onions, so it feels like I’m properly missing something here. Yet, all I’m hearing is an over-reliance on sludge-packing dissonance to bail out Curse’s dull 4/4 rhythmic plod, Devallia’s groaning organ and Magna’s bassline dirge and baleful crooning vocal. Today’s retro fan should be demanding that their heroes reboot history, not simply rehash it. Perhaps, in the future, they’ll shy away from that desire to rely on their twin attack of ineffectual mooching / turning their strings to mush – to my mind, it does them a disservice. The only point where they seem to offer something more of themselves is in the upbeat march of “Beyond The Door” and the hopeful blues vibe that infects “Souls On Fire”. Other than those flickers of life, there’s little else to get excited about. To be frank, need a bit more bloody and a lot more hammer next time round.

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