American blackthrash exponent J Hammer – he’s the one man band behind Hammr, the entitiy making this unholy racket – may well have never experienced an original thought about music in his life. However his extreme talent in marshalling the thoughts he does have into some of the most listenable blackthrash I’ve come across in ages means that he may well turn out to be quite a formidable talent in this admittedly quite low-brow arena.
Nuclear metal in excelsis is what you get here, as Hammr cleverly enmesh elements of (very old) Metallica, Slayer, Venom and Celtic Frost on one hand and Discharge and Broken Bones (the opening riff of Death Reign is pure, unadulterated Bones) on the other into a thrashing leviathan of quite devastating proportions.
Midnight’s Commandor Vanik has been enlisted to add solos, which he does as tastefully as circumstances will allow (I’m not joking – his playing is excellent throughout) – but for the rest of the time Hammer goes about his business with Satanic evil intent, hacking and slashing his way through such Satanic Speed anthems as Eternal Prey and Satanic Raid, both of which feature breakneck riffing that sounds like an experiment to see what Kill Em All would have sounded like had it been played by demented psychopaths rather than drunk teenagers. The answer, if you’re wondering, is bloody frightening but brilliant.
It’s also short. Whilst Hetfield and Ulrich’s early work was often allowed to stretch out over six or seven minutes, Hammer affords himself no such luxury, meaning everything sounds urgent and genuinely exciting. Riffs don’t keep going beyond their expiration date and solos are sometimes cut brutally short, but it all adds to the feeling of chaos and immediacy.
Basically, if you are an adherent of blackthrash there will be no surprises for you from Hammr. But I guarantee you won’t hear many better albums in this style released this year, which, by my reckoning, makes this a just about essential purchase. Ripping stuff!
Unholy Destruction is out now.