Since they first appeared on the scene, Transylvania’s own Bloody Hammers have been producing a consistently excellent series of some of the finest records you could hope to find, firstly on SoulSeller Records before being signed to the ever growing stable of excellence that makes up the Napalm Records rota of artists. Each album got stronger and stronger, and if occult tinged doom was your thing, they were truly essential purchases. If that weren’t enough, in 2015 multi-talented front man Anders Manga released ‘Hexed’ a collection of original themes, any of which could have played over the titles of the horror movies that so clearly influence his sound (by the way, that album was released via Bandcamp at a “name your price” rate, and is still there to grab and enjoy!).
With their latest release ‘Lovely Sort of Death’, hereafter to be referred to merely as ‘LSD’ (hey, if it was good enough for The Beatles, who’s to complain?), the band have moved a bit further from their simple but exquisitely composed rock sounds, and more into the realms of Gothic electronica. ‘Bloodletting on a Kiss’ opens with brooding keyboards that don’t try to recreate orchestral or organ sounds, but have an unapologetically synthetic sound, a sound celebrated through the 70’s and 80’s for its nether-worldly qualities. These are exploited to their most in the ethereal nature of the music that accompanies Manga’s singing. The journey of the album becomes more trippy with ‘Lights Come Alive’, the alternating groan and bark of the vocals of the preceding track being replaced by a a cleaner, blissed out delivery to compliment the sweeping keyboards. The Goth factor is turned up for ‘The Reaper Comes’, not just in the title and lyrics, but in the simple, yet dark and brooding music. If your wardrobe tends towards the black and purple, and your holidays centre around journeys to Whitby cemeteries, this one will definitely appeal, as will follow up ‘Messalina’ with its more than slightly “Eldritch” sound.
Whilst the presence of Devallia, the other permanent member and keyboard player for Bloody Hammers is far more prominent than the prior releases, the band show their solid Doom Rock chops on the likes of ‘Infinite Gaze to the Sun’ with the dominant guitar riff and the drums sounding less like Doktor Avalanche and with a more raw sound, harking back to their prior releases, a heavier sound that is capitalised on in ‘Ether’. Sandwiched between those two slabs of Doom is ‘Stoke The Fire’ a track that hits a near perfect balance between Rock and Goth with neither guitars nor synths drowning the other, rather perfectly complimenting each other whilst the lyrics could have been lifted straight from a Vincent Price rant in Witchfinder General (‘The Conqueror Worm’, as it was known in the US). Horrible rumours abound that the 1968 Michael Reeves classic is being remade; if so, Bloody Hammers have a track ready and waiting to be played out over the closing credits. The cinematic quality of the band’s music is apparent in the likes of ‘Shadow Out of Time’ and ‘Astral Traveler’, either of which would fit perfectly into the sound tracks of as yet unmade John Carpenter horror/sci-fi epics.
‘LSD’, with its lashings of Gothic sensibilities is an album that should have had me ranting and complaining about Bloody Hammers and how they were moving away from the occult doom sound I loved so much in their first three albums. Instead, I find myself repeatedly playing the album and becoming hypnotised by the complex and nuanced sounds the band have produced; maybe the album was not so much written as conjured up in the ceremony depicted on the album cover? Buy the album, and you too may well fall under its spell.