We’ve covered/complained about certain sub-genres of metal swelling up to the point of gruesomeness and having to search extra hard to find the good bands because there are so effing many of them. We kind of said that last week when discussing grindcore and the millions of bands doing that these days.
It’s getting close to the point of adding occult rock and metal bands into the saturation category, because every time you turn your head these days, new ones are popping up. There have been some exceptionally good ones such as JexThoth/Totem, Jess and the Ancient Ones, and The Devil’s Blood, who just announced their dissolution, and some that haven’t been all that wonderful. Needless to say, you didn’t read about any of those bands on this site because we try to champion the good stuff and shove mediocrity to the side.
Bloody Hammers is the latest addition to the occult rock category, and perhaps their name is a little misleading. Before I heard a note of music and read a word of their bio, I assumed we were talking heavy, death-oriented, muddy madness, something that could please your need for violence and fury. But this band is anything but that. They’re more of a rock band than a metal outfit, and while they have some bluesy, gooey riffs similar to classic Black Sabbath, they don’t really exude heaviness. And that’s OK. There still is going to be plenty of crossover appeal for listeners who are more metal-entrenched but like bands with a knack for darkness, and Bloody Hammers deliver on that end of it. There are traits of classic horror, stories from the coven, and chilling evil that should do the trick, and on top of that, this band writes some really strong songs.
Going back to assuming, I initially thought Bloody Hammers could hail from somewhere in Europe, but instead they call Charlotte, N.C., home. So that was a weird, unexpected discovery, but again, it’s why you should not assume. Their self-titled debut is finally available physically now, via Dutch label Soulseller. The group is a four-piece with weird, yet fitting stage names, with Anders Manga (OK, that might be his real name) on bass and vocals, Zoltan handling guitars, Devallia on organs and keys, and Curse on drums. They just formed in 2012, so they’ve gotten a lot done in a short amount of time. Despite their very short existence, they already play with a polish and cohesion many bands far more experienced fail to muster.
The record establishes its identity quickly, with the buzzing guitar lines that are a trademark, and a catchy melody and chorus that makes opener “Witches of Endor” perfect for sucking you into the album. “Fear No Evil,” that begins with haunting organs, quickly kicks things into high gear, revealing a really enthralling dark rock song with ritualistic imagery. It’s this type of thing, helping the listener create an image in his/her mind of the ceremonies and horrors going on, at which that they prove quite effective. “The Last Legion of Sorrow” has slinky, fuzzed-out guitar work that reminds me a bit of Clutch and some ominous words such as, “The vengeful blade is coming down.” “Say Goodbye to the Sun” keeps thing mid-tempo and captivating, appealing to the vampire quotient and poking, “How’s it feel to know you’re going to live forever?” It’s a curse, not a blessing. “The Witching Hour” is calculated and effective, a nice bridge to the record’s second half.
“Black Magic” hits on a bluesy guitar groove that’s very vintage Sabbath and would be an excellent set-opener live. It would get your juices flowing in a hurry. “Trisect” is grinding and a bit sludgy, proving their metal chops are not to be questioned, and eventually the song thrashes out and leaves you devastated. It’s one of my favorite cuts on here. “Beyond the Door” hints at danger lurking where you cannot see, and after a somewhat mystical opening, it rocks out pretty good, serving up a nice start-stop approach to its chorus. “Souls on Fire” opens with a 1950s doo wop-style guitar line that sounds like it’s going to be a haunting torch bearer, but instead it gets grungy and abrasive, leaving behind any ideas that it was going to soothe. Closer “Don’t Breathe a Word” is a dark ballad with clean guitars that remind me of when 1980s thrash bands tried to do slower songs, and it’s a really great way to end the album on a high note.
Bloody Hammers may be new to the game, but they certainly have the ability to become one of the finer bands in the occult sub-category. They’re strong songwriters, the vocals can appeal to many audiences, and their material is just foreboding enough to keep a metalhead happy. This is a band to watch, one that seems primed to not only make an impact with metal listeners but maybe with those who wish mainstream rock was better and a little more dangerous.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.bloodyhammers.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/index.php?choice=mailorder
For more on the label, go here: http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/