Ohio based multi-instrumentalist J. Hammr’s satanic speed metal project Hammr has finally reached full-length status with the release of ‘Unholy Destruction’ and makes ten great arguments for the power of first wave black metal influenced speed metal. Ye olde thrashing echoes of darkness heard on ‘Expurse of Sodomy’ era Sodom and Bathory‘s self-titled d-beaten Venom-isms made the 2015 ‘Hammr’ EP a demonic metal-punk DIY gem that stood as a step above Hammr’s earlier self-produced demo days. Though the project remains deathly DIY in many respects the leap from Discharge‘d black/speed of the EP to the powerful reverberations of ‘Unholy Destruction’ is another great leap in quality. If Tormentor‘s ‘Anno Domini’ line-up had recorded a follow up to Iron Angel‘s ‘Hellish Crossfire’ and dropped the fantasy metal elements it’d sound like Hammr in 2018.
It is easy for a lot of the more orthodox tuned black/thrash and speed metal projects to blur together if you lose sight of the classics that influenced the style. You might want to lump Hammr in with bands like Hellripper or Midnight but ‘Unholy Destruction’ takes far more cues from first wave black metal and German speed metal than either group. Though the brutish, punk thuds of N.M.E. and early Bathory heavily weigh in on the shape of J. Hammr’s riffs. Solos from Commandor Vanik (Midnight) create electrical storms of blasphemy within a barrage of blasphemic speed metal guitars that never waiver from their orthodoxy. The solos absolutely fucking rip on this record and highlight many songs but holy shit “Eternal Prey” is my favorite. Needless to say you’ll likely enjoy ‘Unholy Destruction’ if you like blackened, evil speed metal that skirts the edges of thrash metal.
I really appreciate when artists are able to hone in on a sound like this and riff successfully off of an established style. Hammr aren’t breaking the mold of blasphemic speed metal so much as they’re perfecting a specific vision of it. Without a heavy Venom or Motörhead (Warfare, really) influence in vocals or lead guitars Hammr separate themselves from a ton of bland, me-too black/speed/thrash projects. By instead pulling from Bathory‘s Discharge influenced early works and Sodom‘s earliest blasphemic speed metal vomitus creates a less obvious but equally satanic metal album. Nailing down the intentions of a satanic speed metal project doesn’t take away from their decisions and my admiration of a band’s taste and decisions in terms of sound and what riffs are ‘cool’ is key beyond any thoughts on innovation or whatever. The real takeaway I have for ‘Unholy Destruction’ is pretty straight-forward: Hammr are far more extreme than any of their influences, the album sounds great, and I could listen to this guy’s punkish riffs and howling demon vocals all day long. This sort of album inspires me to dig up demos and albums of the bands I’ve mentioned here and gives me a reason to spend a day listening to shit I love like Onslaught and Iron Angel, for that reason alone I’m a happy fan.
|Released||February 23, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Hammr on Facebook|
|Genres||Black Metal, Speed Metal|
Eternal shining pentagram. 3.75/5.0
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