Review

Review

'Bloody Hammers' – CD Review [NSFW]

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A while back I reviewed the wicked gothic-industrial album Xs and the Eyes by indie artist Anders Manga, which was packed to the brim with horror movie references (including the awesome Exorcist spin “I Cast You Out”) and heavy-beat electro nightmare soundscapes, all structured around Anders' mesmerizing and chilling vocals. Since then, he's founded a new project that retains that whole doomy devilish vibe, but this time on a foundation of old-school psychedelic occult doom, taking its name from the creepy song “Bloody Hammer” by legendary alt-rock icon Roky Erikson, from his horror-themed album The Evil One. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Bloody Hammers formed within the past year and their self-titled debut album has now dropped on CD and vinyl. Along with Erikson, the band also cites creative influences ranging from Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath to Nick Cave and Bauhaus; from the Misfits and the Cramps to David Bowie and Joy Division... not to mention the lush, sexy gothic atmospheres of Hammer horror films. “Stylistically, I wanted to make a horror fueled hard rock album,” Anders explains, “and this LP reflects that very sentiment and much more.” The outcome is a balanced blend of old and new era occult-themed rock fused into a mega-loud, swirling vortex with Anders' haunting voice as your guide. He also supplies bass, joined by Zoltan on guitars and long-time musical collaborators Devallia and Curse, on keyboards and drums, respectively.

 
 
The opening track “Witch of Endor” (also the album's first single) sets the tone and the standard with a grimy dark-rock riff that calls back to Sabbath and Pentagram, but a distinct split from the old style comes in Anders' vocal delivery, which runs from a smoky gothic croon to a soaring tenor, often multi-tracked with harmony layers and decidedly modern-sounding; in this combination comes the band's hook and signature. Most of these ten cuts are a variation on that style, although with more gothic layers added in the form of backing organ tracks on “Fear No Evil” and eerie Bauhaus-style soundscapes in “Say Goodbye to the Sun,” but cuts like “The Last Legion of Sorrow” and “The Witching Hour” are more stripped-down, driven mainly by a simple but effective fuzzed-up bass and guitar line.
 
“Black Magic” recalls Anders' horror-centric electro past with movie samples and lyrics depicting occult goings-on in a creepy old house, but the groove here is pure stoner/doom; even the guitar solo is muted and low-key. “Beyond the Door” is another spooky entry, with its reverse-whispered intro. “Trisect” injects elements of horror punk and industrial rhythm into the mix, making it unique among the other tracks, but I like the way the elements mesh together, and Anders' vocals are ideally suited for this style of song. “Souls on Fire” is a slightly bluesier variation on the formula that doesn't stray much from its central riff, but it sports a spooky, organ-backed bridge. The album closes with the atmospheric ballad “Don't Breathe a Word,” which floats on a dreamy acoustic finger-picked guitar, with Anders' vocals at their most pensive and melancholy.
 
While there is less variation on the basic theme than I was hoping, I'm still impressed with the band's unique approach of gene-splicing moody gothic vocals with a guitar-based doom & groove vibe. It's a winning combination, and smoothly brings together elements that you might have thought were strange bedfellows. If you want to sample their wares, you can listen to some tracks on Bandcamp, where you can also purchase the album in digital format. It's also available on CD and limited-run vinyl from Soulseller Records. But right now be sure to tune in, turn on and freak out with their NSFW video (because boobies) for “Fear No Evil.”
 

 

 

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