By Rob Thompson
A year after they came out of nowhere and released their excellent self-titled debut album, doom-tastic Bloody Hammers, a US occult band with overtones of 1960s/1970s hard rock, return with their follow-up Spiritual Relics. Their first album was well received by most critics and I felt that the aforementioned hard rocking element, which they had incorporated into their overall sound, set them apart from the seemingly never ending stream of bands which are emerging onto an uber-saturated occult scene. Sure you get the obligatory satanic imagery on the album cover and of course the band members all have suitably obscure and dark names:
But to be honest I’d expect nothing less from a band trying to make it big within the genre.
Less melodic than other groups in the same category, such as Ghost, with Spiritual Relics Bloody Hammers have nevertheless managed to create a worthy follow-up album full of sinisterly catchy and baleful tunes which were so prevalent in their first album. The ten tracks on this album are all winners, although not every track is an outright killer, for example ‘Shiver’ and ‘Path Of Sorrows’ while good perhaps don’t meet the standards set by the other songs. The one thing that really propels Bloody Hammers apart from the crowd is the vocal talent of Andres who raises the level of the band above their rivals. Having been involved in a number of other musical projects the experience he gained from these really shows.
The album kicks off with ‘What’s Haunting You’ and I immediately got the impression that Bloody Hammers seemed to be more solid and tighter than before. As expected a creepy mood ran through the entire track with some great big heavy riffs and suitable lyrical content. ‘At The Well of Nazareth’ follows with its meaningful vocals and at times the guitars on this track had a stoner fuzz to them but this combined well with organist Devallia’s vibrant playing. ‘The Transit Begins’ starts off softly then the doomy tone is ramped up and fully allowed to run riot battering the eardrums of unwary listener. ‘The Source’ is next and this has top-notch meaty riff work and unnerving lyrics. ‘Color Me Blood Red’ then ‘Night of the Long Knives’ is one of the best tracks on the album. It highlights how the group have grown and evolved in the last twelve months. I’d probably go so far as to say this is the best track that Bloody Hammers have written to date. All elements of the song work well and complement each other to give you the aural equivalent of a horror movie. Taking a heartbeat as a framework ‘Shiver’ follows, then ‘Flesh of the Lotus’. ‘Path of Sorrows’ bows at the altar of Pentagram taking a lead from such masterpieces as Relentless.
The last track on the album is ‘Science Fiction’. I guess you could classify this as a love song due to its use of melodic plaintive guitars and some poignant lyrics to match. This is not a “punch the listener in the face and then cut his throat” song like some of the other tracks but I can see ‘Science Fiction’ being played to slow down the pace of a live show. To end the album with a powerful track like this was certainly a courageous decision but it does hint of things to come on album number three.
In summary, Bloody Hammers have managed to write the soundtrack to an unknown 1960s horror film. My obstinate metal brain was well and truly warped by the crazy brilliance on display from this very gifted band of occultish hard rocking doom-mongers. They have managed to achieve a rich sound without adding too much instrumental complexity and this approach preserves all of the basic building blocks necessary for a good metal band without becoming mired in tiresome gimmicks or massive amounts of overproduction. Check out this album as it transports you on a sinister and nefarious excursion through an evil universe. Satan foresees that this band is destined for great things.