The Summoning by Bloody Hammers

Alice Cooper. Type O Negative. Berlin- era David Bowie. Nick Cave. Marilyn Manson. Danzig. Sisters Of Mercy. RATT… ok, maybe not that one, but I hope you get the gist of where this gothic ship is treading. As pretentiously underground and dripping in old school death metal gore as I may always be, THAT good ‘ol glam stuff has always been my true musical love. I can get away from it for a bit, but like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.. well, you know how that ends. I indeed always come back but in fact I never left for one second. Even in death metal, I always prefer a more “theatrical” or “cheap horror film” approach to the songwriting and the visual presentation of the music. That classic goth/glam depressive, horrific but electric, sexy rock & roll has been programmed within me since day one. I believe I was born with a Killing Joke LP in one hand and kitchen knife in the other. When new and upcoming bands attempt these styles, well actually, not enough are. But, the ones that do, I have a really hard time gravitating towards as they always fall impossibly short or become instantly forgettable in peril of ancient voodoo rock ’n roll powers. A glimmer of light, if you will, a faint candle flickering in the midst of a foggy ritualistic dungeon, an ancient sleeping demon under a sea of lousy imitations, is a musical duo known as Bloody Hammers.

I have been a low-key fanatic of these Transylvania County native death rockers, for the reasons listed above, for quite some time now. Their image is predictably classic gothic horror spiced up with some satanic imagery and/or animal skins, naked bodies, halloween costumes, blood splattered ouija boards; while their music remains unpredictably tranquilizing and magical. Not being forgotten as some mid-rate horror metal rip off band, they infuse signature harmonious and ceremonial qualities into their bass heavy, skull-rattling, Satan-spawning, shock rock. Having been hooked on the Hammers since their self-titled and black magic-soaked debut, every subsequent release has, in my opinion, been an axe dragging step forward from the gothic duo. Never ones to take a step backward from which they came, begs the question; will The Summoning prove to be another chapter in their progressive and black candelabra lit history or a mere sidestep in their eclectically grim catalog? Well soon find out…

Undeniable grooves. Chugging riffs. Bolstering bass. Classic horror soundtrack vibes. Devilishly clean & deep-cutting vocals in line with our aforementioned goth rock heroes. An instantly recognizable sound, and essentially entire vibe; immediately asserts its undead presence among the living. Only difference is, at least at first, the hammers may have not gotten much bloodier, but they certainly are heavier. The back to back throat cutters that are “Lets Sleeping Corpses Lie “& “Now The Screaming Starts” are quite the ’76 Sabbath - driven heavy metal riff work backed by an early Type O orchestration. The combination results in disastrously overdriven, butcher hook levels of catchy, and surprisingly fast & heavy results. The confidently evil and dynamic sound solidify them as all time hits for the band, and a perfect encapsulation of all the twisted tempos, haunted mansions sounds, and weirdly seductive vocals from Anders Manga. It’s not too often vocals as clearly audible as this are shown light in the crypts of DeathComesLifting.com, although maybe they should be more so, but this is one that deserves the high honor. I cannot think of any other current band of this genre, besides Ghost I suppose, that does the clean & gothic vocals better with a modern approach. The grandiose use of dark vocal range in turn make the poetry of the lyrics crucial, which is another strong point of The Summoning. Never having an issue with any of their be it tongue-in-cheek, 70’s drive-in film lyrics or the matters of the deep depressive psyche evaluation such as found on “Condemned, The Prisoner”, of which could easily have been penned by a coming down Johnny Cash. It’s miserable southern rock of the richest and most ghoulish quality. Apart from that, the lyrical flow and unholy vocabulary is exquisitely expressed, true to Bloody Hammers form that just reinforces their infectious catchiness… maybe there is some REAL black magic at work here after all…

More than likely, just an awesome understanding of sonic expression of horror and melancholy. Not to mention, vintage vibes fly like spirits in the form of fuzz lord and doom tones, Fabio Frizzi -approved synth & keyboard (see the title track), aforementioned lyricism of a groovy Aleister Crowley; all presented in such a way that may take involuntary control of your hips and/or sexual organs before festering its way into your brain as you proudly sing “rituals and black masses, tales that witness madness” driving to doggy day care.. ANYWAY, like I was saying, this is, in fact, a heavy fucking record; with respects to Bloody Hammers previous material. Almost not since the beginning have we heard this level of metal pouring from the speakers when a Bloody Hammers record is spun, and it does not disappoint. Playing off the subdue grooves quite nicely, there is a balance stricken on The Summoning that the previous records did not have QUITE as much. They effortlessly weave their way through treacherous speed and heaviness complete with epic metal choruses, psychedelic keyboard driven ballads of dark desire (Props to Devallia on “The Beast Is Coming Out”), drum patterns that would not confuse strippers, and never losing focus of the core songwriting… or nostalgic horror rituals. The same could be argued with all of their other records, but this one does feel like they’ve cranked it up a notch or 3. Only problem is? I wish they would’ve cranked it up about 6 notches. A little more experimentation and boundary pushing from them is what I believe will take them to the next level, instead of offering heavier but more of the same (although that same is better than 99% of most “sames”, mind you). Although there is certainly aspects of The Summoning that do infect push the boundaries for the band; wether it be riffs that nod from Iron Maide to unrelenting punk chord progressions, or atmosphere richening sounds of the eerie keyboards/organs; there is always room to take it to the next level. I hope we see that from the next Bloody Hammers release, but, at the end of this treacherous day; The Summoning presents some of the band’s finest moments… and makes for one hell of a fun goth rock record for the summer. Play it LOUD!!! They’re coming for you…

Rating: 4/5

Gym Rating: 4.5/5

Check em out: