I must admit to being ignorant of Bloody Hammers’ existence, but Lovely Sort of Death is their fourth full-length effort. The Transylvania County (I kid thee not), North Carolina band has been around since 2012, with what appears to be 2 main-stayers; Anders Manga (vocals, guitar and bass) and Devallia (organ, piano) – the poor old drummers seem to come and go.

At first glance, with the Aleister Crowley-esque album cover (picture 1920’s era naked girlies – one with a goat’s head), and photos of Manga with a touch of corpse paint going on, I was pretty much expecting some form of black metal. There was even a file provided with the album with all of the dark, doom-laden lyrics – ooh, nice!

Imagine my surprise when the opening track Bloodletting on the Kiss started up, and I hear what seems to me to be an homage to all of my fave 80’s goth bands rolled into one! It’s like someone grabbed all of the good bits from the Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, and Bauhaus. Manga’s vocals, at this point sound familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it…

Lights Come Alive certainly has some Cure-like guitar and keyboard sounds, but there is a heavier, darker rock riff going on. Similar goth overtones are heard in The Reaper Comes, but with heavier doom elements (especially in the lyrics).

Wikepedia describes Bloody Hammers as doom metal and gothic rock; yet Manga’s solo listing states his genre as darkwave – which I think really describes their sound best: “…dark, usually gothic rock-influenced music that incorporates synthesizers, or elements of new wave and synthpop, although the term is also applied to post-punk bands that produce a dark atmosphere”. But then tracks like Inifinite Gaze to the Sun, Stoke the Fire and Ether come along which bring about a heavier rock and metal sound, with some really catchy drumming and guitar riffs. It’s about this point where I realise Manga’s vocals remind me of a less tormented and less menacing version of Peter Murphy (Bauhaus).

I wasn’t too sure if at first I only liked this album purely because of the bands it reminds me of, but a further listen made me appreciate the elements that are purely Bloody Hammers. There is an entertaining variance between some of the more melancholy tracks and the ones that really kick in with some heavier beats. I may just have to delve back into their earlier albums and give those a listen also.

Lovely Sort of Death will be released by Napalm Records on August 5th