Tuesday, 19 June 2012
HAMMERS - 'Vardogr' (2012) : A Review
HAMMERS are a group of musicians hailing from Manchester with an original approach to creating brutal crust-laden hardcore. I wanted to include 'metal' in the synopsis, but as soon as I use the words hardcore and metal together my whole body cringes. It is crusty in that it projects gritty bass, low guttural voice and stampeding tempos.. all driven along in an adventurous early Dischord-era style where technical prowess and unpredictable structures aren't sneered upon.
The first track 'Casting Spells' oozes dark feedback(y) mess all over my ears, before spitting out a pristine sounding riff that instantly cuts through the layers of vicious feedback...From black metal to early Baroness in the flip of a switch. The titles of this album almost remind me of the chapter names of some prophetic book out of the middle ages; encouraging a bewildered sense of awe. A similar feeling most have experienced through attempting to read 'Dante's Inferno' when they were 17...intriguing nevertheless.
The kind of head-nodding (cause there are 'kinds') it gets out of me is a kind of blend between the focused jarring approach induced by math rock and the head-down-to-the-ground shake techniques regularly seen at your local thrash gig. Its easy to say Hammers envelop many styles in their music, it is hard to determine exactly how due to the fluency of it. A track that sticks out to me lasts a timely :23 secs named 'Endoteric'. Mainly because I have a great big mushy soft spot for grimy doom but secondly for that chord at the end of the riff; sounds like an orchestra of electric bass guitars all playing the same note in a massive expansive auditorium.
'Endoteric' serves almost as a divider between the static and the residual elements, as the album's pallet seems to expand beyond this point. The thundering intro to the following song 'The Sun's Journey Through The Night' prepares you for an Ocean-esque onslaught of scratchy guitar passages and I daresay, hints of Leviathan-era Mastodon. Just to note as well, this song ends with an absolute beast of a riff which feels like its about to do the whole fade out thing, but to our delight, gradually collapses in on itself. Just good.
The next track 'Spectacle' conjures up similar ideas to the track previously but ends on a riff that if it weren't for the subcutaneous bass rumble, would quite neatly fit into an early 90s post hardcore jam.
We come to another short epic entitled 'Etiäinen' which clocks in at :29 secs, allowing for yet another sludgy intermission until the next track kicks its way through the door. 'A Coffin In The Shape Of A Chapel' features textures that would have Botch members blushing, executing structural changes like it was second nature. After the pertinently heavy introduction, this song evolves to a thrash-metal tip-of-the-hat, melding ideas presented as initially individual but included possibly as a nudge of the elbow to the listener, as in 'yeah we like thrash, but this is what we can do with it now' kind of thing.
From musical winks to another, the next track scratches at the ear with its instantly deathly sound but just as quickly caresses it back to health. A surprisingly cerebral blast beat evolves like photosynthesis into the beautifully rich room ambience heard in the final moments. The structure of this whole album is interesting in both song and in its entirety. This I say after being treated to a reprise in the shape of 'Systole' where the album's first riff is brought back into play. But the song retreats into half time, almost like taking the first track 'Casting Spells' and sieving the hardcore, leaving nothing but sludge.
Hammers have really pushed the boat out with this album. By boat I mean longboat, and by pushed I mean dragged, dragged into the glistening Scandinavian waves among crowds of awe-stricken onlookers. If you like it dark and heavy, harsh and pacey, intensely bruising to your metal credentials then this is a band to look out for. This album will be available on 10" from them on their tour and soon I am assuming on their Big Cartel site. It will also be available soon from:
WIN HTEIN winhteinrecords.blogspot.co.uk
PAIN OF MIND www.pain-of-mind.com
Big Spaceship are hosting a gig with HAMMERS and a variety of other loud bands. Come down to Royal Park Cellars 07-07-12, its only £2 as well!
It will be the second to last date for Hammers after a 33 date consecutive tour...fuck.
02/06/12 – UK. nottingham, old angel w/ wormrot
09/06/12 – UK. bradford, 1-in-12 club w/ tragedy
10/06/12 – UK. penzance, dirty sunday w/ crocus
11/06/12 – UK. london, black heart (camden)
12/06/12 – FR. herzeele, ferme de la briqueterie
13/06/12 – NL. utrecht, acu w/ sloth
14/06/12 – DE. hannover, ujz korn
15/06/12 – DE. berlin, schokoladen
16/06/12 – DE. dresden, venue tba
17/06/12 – CZ. prague, klubovna povalec
18/06/12 – AT. graz, sub
19/06/12 – HU. budapest, szabad az a
20/06/12 – RS. bačka topola, klub panta rhei
21/06/12 – BA. banja luka, venue tba
22/06/12 – IT. campel – fuck shoes fest vol. 2, trento
23/06/12 – IT. monza, boccaccio
24/06/12 – IT. carpi, ekidna – rottura del silenzio fest w/ holy
25/06/12 – CAN YOU HELP?
26/06/12 – CH. geneva, kab-usine
27/06/12 – ES. barcelona, begood club
28/06/12 – ES. madrid, rock palace
29/06/12 – ES. a coruña, csoa palavea
30/06/12 – ES. bilbao (basauri), txarraska gaztetxea
01/07/12 – FR. bordeaux, heretic club
02/07/12 – FR. paris, venue tba
03/07/12 – BE. brussels, dna
04/07/12 – DE. essen, emokeller
05/07/12 – NL. tilburg, little devil
06/07/12 – BE. kortrijk, the pits
07/07/12 – DE. köln, az köln-kalk w/ alpinist, masakari
08/07/12 – UK. ipswich (alldayer, hammers <4.30pm), royal oak
08/07/12 – UK. norwich, olive’s café
09/07/12 – UK. leeds, royal park cellars
10/07/12 – UK. manchester, kraak gallery w/ graf orlock, lich
Here is a song taken from their album 'VARDOGR' entitled 'A Coffin in the Shape of a Chapel'.