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Hammerhands : Glaciers

the overall effect of Hammerhands' debut is that of a marching army, noisy, hectic, wild and conquering.

This first album by Hammerhands opens with a long brooding instrumental made of thick riffs digging dark aural corridors, a long series of viscous chords dripping from the speakers which are then cut by a succession of edgy motifs that start crafting a new kind of soundscape: tighter and more nervous, where a husky voice, between Sludge and Hardcore, finally comes and settles. The tension arises from the stubborn repetition of these short, dry chords - almost spasmodic and anti-melodic - that pound in eager waves with the subtlety of a pachyderm practising jump rope.

The overall rhythm will be very familiar to anyone who has experienced the battlefield and knows the peculiar melody of antiaircraft cannons. The band builds each of its delicate odes to poetry on the same arid and graceless rhythmic ground. It is a choice and not a lack of taste or of talent. Finesse is not appropriate here; if the band shows any melodic tendencies (like some softer guitar notes or even - aberration!- the solemn lament of a cello), they always end up being crushed under the weight of the armoured assault force that has made the album its playground, running in all directions, flattening down everything in its way.

'Glaciers' looks like a military campaign articulated in relatively uniform rhythmic movements: even if a slight modulation of rate is noticeable, the overall effect is that of a marching army, noisy, hectic, wild and conquering. For those who're still lost in the various Doom sub-genre definitions, the martial energy conveyed by Hammerhands should have them labelled Postcore rather than Sludge: the band unleashes a strength that is unknown to Sludge, their rage is violent and 'wilful' – it is far from the bitter despondency in which Eyehategod drown themselves…

However, Hammerhands' cataclysmic music takes a surprising turn in the last part of the album, as the charred landscapes finally free up space and the music gets more atmospheric, coming close to Omega Massif or Black Shape of Nexus. It's dark, but also more 'inhabited', and emotion shows between two ultra-heavy riffs. As if the cannons had run out of shells, the pace significantly slows down, and finally the bellicose euphoria gives way to anxiety and uncertainty. The album closes as it began, with a long (far too long, I must say) instrumental: evanescent and almost abstract in the way it resorts to feedback and drones. An interesting experience.

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Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Floods
2. Analysis Paralysis
3. Glaciers
4. Meatbags
5. Lasciate ogne spreranza, voi ch’intrate
6. Equus

Duration : Approx. 62 minutes

Visit the Hammerhands bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-06-21 by Bertrand Marchal
Thermal Mass
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