Published on Sunday, 07 August 2016 22:03
Band: Bloody Hammers
Album title: Lovely Sort Of Death
Release date: 5 August 2016
Label: Napalm Records
01. Bloodletting On The Kiss
02. Lights Come Alive
03. The Reaper Comes
05. Infinite Gaze To The Sun
06. Stoke The Fire
08. Shadow Out Of Time
09. Astral Traveler
Horror inspired USA based duo Bloody Hammers return with their fourth studio album, their second one released for one of Europe's largest rock and metal labels, Napalm Records. Bloody Hammers was initially formed as a studio only project with vocalist/songwriter, Anders Manga producing and recording all instruments, but soon Anders decided to make Bloody Hammers a real band, so his wife Devallia joined him on this musical expedition. Now, with Lovely Sort Of Death the two decided to change things a bit and composed their darkest album so far, it's not just another psychedelic/horror/doom rock thing like we were used to hear so far from them, but this time it pierces more into gothic waters, while mantaining the doom vibe present as well. A bold decision if you ask me, especially because the term "gothic" is not that much popular in the large metal community and by opting right to this side of fans while not being promoted in the real goth media the things might get a bit complicated and not welcomed as it should be otherwise.
Lovely Sort Of Death consists of ten tracks with running time of almost 50 minutes. This album is haunting to say at least, it's heavy, dark, yet very atmospheric and somehow catchy. One thing I miss here is consistency, because not all of the tracks keep the momentum created by others, there are many good ideas that are not fully developed on some occasions. With occult/horror themed lyrics and overall murky atmosphere created by exqusite synths and organ played by Devallia this album is a delicacy for every fan of dark/horror themed rock music. Still, it's not your typical brand of dark/gothic rock, there is some kind of a retro-southern vibe present, yet many elements shift into the doomy coloured soundscapes. If compared to their previous album, Under Satan's Sun, released in 2014, Anders added thick Moog sound to his normal fuzzed-out guitar, also the atmosphere is heavier and more accessible than ever before. The rhythmic line is often simple but effective, creating a well flowing sound with some nice groovy parts. Anders's voice is not your typical baritone gothic one, but still dark, emotive, captivating and powerful enough when most needed. There are many vocal variations that adds a lot to the dynamics of compositions.
My favourite part of the album starts with trio, the pretty emotional and catchy "Lights Come Alive", gloomy, dreamy and vibrant "The Reaper Comes" attracting with its addictive sing-along chorus, and dynamic, yet dramatic "Messalina" with some nice pounding percussion and groovy heavy/doom feel. The heavier tracks like is the electrifying opener "Bloodletting On The Kiss", "Infinite Gaze To The Sun" or "Stoke The Fire", all flirt a bit with 70s hard rock and gothic metal at certain parts, I never thought that this combination can blend so well together, and there's constantly present some kind of dark psychedelic element that makes it even more interesting and unique. "Ether" is the doomiest and most suffocating track up here with really thick foggy atmosphere. The psychedelic side of Bloody Hammers is best heard in the obscure ambiental "Shadow Out Of Time". Another quite surprising thing is the typical heavy metal riffing backened with driving rhythm section and gothy synths on "Astral Traveler". The album nicely ends with retro doomy driven but a bit too much teared up "Catastrophe". As you can read the tracks are pretty much diverse between each other, so the listener can easily get lost in those shadowy soundscapes and of course can't really get bored while listening to Lovely Sort Of Death.
The ambiance is often dense, somehow multidimensional and creepy thanks to great gothy synths and devilish, rather vintage organ sound. For most of the time the things work out with perfection, but there are some mellow moments to be truthful and sadly it lacks a bit that certain thing that could make out of this album a breakthrough one and keep you hooked for longer period of time. Still, I find Lovely Sort Of Death the best album released so far by Bloody Hammers, it's dynamic, it offers many shades of darkness, here and there it's almost theatrical with kind of a baroque scent, yet it's accessible enough and a fine sountrack for painting the most horrific imagination in your mind. While Bloody Hammers music is pretty unique and something not really heard before, I still think that Lovely Sort Of Death is an enjoyable album that could find its audience amongst many diverse types of listeners, so I recommend it to all kind of gothsters, but also to fans of bands like Danzig, The 69 Eyes, Type O Negative, My Dying Bride, and also to those into Black Sabbath, Pentagram, The Obsessed or Count Raven to name a few.
Review written by: T.V.