Review: Hammers

Hammers Vardøgr

For a guy currently sitting here wearing a Thor’s hammer, I’m surprisingly edgy about bands that use a lot of Norse imagery. How sad it is that Norse culture, so complex and varied, has come to be the playing thing of a bunch of numpties who could barely spell Ginnungagap. Of course, there are plenty of bands that manage to use Norse iconography to create something dark and interesting, without foisting a bunch of anachronisms on 9th century Scandinavia.

Why am I on about this you might ask? Because I nearly overlooked the new release by the band Hammers from Manchester because of this simple prejudice. This is not to say that we’re never going to review right wing stuff on this blog. But, dedicated antifascists that we are, there has to be a really good reason to do it.

[Addendum: In light of the exchange in the comments below, we would like to stress that Hammers is not a right wing band and we by no means meant to suggest that they were.]

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Contrary to what you might think from seeing their imagery, and the fact that their album is called Vardøgr, are not a black metal band, or a Viking metal band, or anything of the kind. For those who are interested, vardøgr are spirits in Scandanavian folklore that are sort of like doppelgangers (but different). This in itself tells you something about Hammers. They chose do name their band after an interesting and complex cultural phenomenon, rather than some sort of berserk warrior or savage creature. Although their music has the occasional black metal tinge, it is much more comparable to dark crust bands like Masakari or Cursed, with perhaps a bit of Fall of the Bastards added in for good measure, although even this doesn’t quite do it justice.

Their songs roll along at furious tempos, now more melodic, now more atonal, always dark and depressing. They have a lot more variation in tempo than your average d-beat band, and this adds to a kind of chaotic demeanor to their music. They also seem determined to pack about twice as many licks into each individual song as most bands mining this particular vein. The juxtaposition of styles can be quite breathtaking, from power violence, to thundering double bass, to straightforward hardcore all in the space of a few seconds.

The lyrics to their songs are a mélange of dark imagery. Kind of like a lot of bands in this genre, it doesn’t do much good to try to find direct meanings in what they say. Rather, it’s a matter of allowing to texts to meld with the music, presenting a larger, darker totality. This is the sort of record that it helps to be in a good mood to listen to, because Hammers music is the kind of thing that causes clouds to cover the sun.

They’re apparently touring Europe now. Once they are done, I demand that they come to the U.S.! Obey me!

Magadh

3 Responses to “Review: Hammers”

  1. Hiya. First of all thanks for the good review.

    Can I just make it very clear though that we are absolutely not a right wing band.

    The second paragraph just strangely implies we are…

    Again, thanks a lot.

    Sacha/Hammers

    • Hi Sacha,
      My apologies if the way that I expressed myself in that paragraph suggested that I thought you were right wing. I would point out that the opening sentence of the next paragraph was meant to make clear that we didn’t think that, but I can see how you might have read it otherwise. We loved your record and would love to hear more.

      Magadh

  2. give us a couple of months and we’ll have more for you!

    cheers dude!

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