Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bloody Hammers-Under Satan's Sun

Napalm Records

Released back in late May of this year, "Under Satan's Sun" is the third album from Charlotte, North Carolina band Bloody Hammers. Having simply loved the band's self-titled debut album (a release which was as hit or miss with fans as it was critics) I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by it's 2013 follow-up, "Spiritual Relics", as it just felt....uninspired. So much so in fact that I couldn't bring myself to cover it. Now we have "Under Satan's Sun" and while I am in no way saying that I'm ready to write this band off completely I do have to wonder out loud how it is possible for a band with so much promise and potential to go from one great album to one (at best) decent album and then (some two years or so after first forming mind you!) follow things up with a release that I can't help but feel indifferent about? Psychedelic doom opener "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" (previously released as 7" single with "Glimpse") is alright and (fuzzed-out) heavy doom rocker "Spearfinger" offers tiny glimpses of hope that Bloody Hammers will right the ship and return to harbor, but then things start to unravel on "Death Does Us". As others have pointed out before me, "Death Does Us" is Bloody Hammers trying to be Type O Negative and while that is a crime in and of itself it gets worse. "Death Does Us" also sounds remarkably similar to "Load"/"ReLoad"-era Metallica and that is a unforgivable offense! For a band that had it all down pat on "Bloody Hammers" (a fun album that brought to mind not only classic Black Sabbath, but everyone from Alice Cooper to The Sword!) cuing up images of late-nineties Metallica simply does not cut it! Sure, "The Moon-Eyed People" is (hand's down!) an improvement when it kicks in and there is really nothing offensive about "Second Coming" (a Alice Cooper cover). Even "Dead Man's Shadow on the Wall" and "The Necromancer" are solid. So why does the group feel the need to infuse some Soundgarden into the title track? Or for that matter put to tape a number like "The Last Alarm"? At best "The Last Alarm" is more grunge for a generation which missed out on it the first time around. At it's worst though "The Last Alarm" is more grunge for those of us who lived through the scene already and heard it done a thousands times better. Once band leader/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Anders Manga abandons everything that works in Bloody Hammer's favor (doom metal, psychedelic rook, occult rock of old, seventies rock/hard rock influences, inspiration from seventies horror movies and even stoner rock) things go down hill quickly! While I'm all for a band's right to grow and further experiment with their sound there are cases where this backfires. "Under Satan's Sun" is a case study on how to over-think matters when less would have been more. Maybe album number four will be the ticket for Bloody Hammers, but for now I think I'll go back to "Bloody Hammers" when I'm in the mood for something really cool and inspirational.



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