In 2014, thanks to Metal Nation Radio (one of the two other great sites I write for) I was given Under Satan’s Sun by Bloody Hammers to review. I had no prior knowledge of the band before that, even though they had previously released a self-titled album, but I was immediately struck by their very intelligent doom metal sound. You can read my opinions of the album here. Ever since then I’ve been keeping close tabs on Bloody Hammers, heavily anticipating their follow up. That follow up, entitled Lovely Sort of Death, has arrived, and thanks to Decibel Geek, the other great site I work for, I received the album early for review.
There was one obvious difference that I noticed after my first listening of Lovely Sort of Death: a large increase of keyboards. But not in a poppy sort of way, as Bloody Hammers still maintain a dark and credibly heavy metal sound. Bloody Hammers have always identified as somewhat of a gothic metal band, though I didn’t really hear it too much on the previous album so much. However I can’t miss it this time around.
Right from the start on Lovely Sort of Death‘s opening track Bloodletting on the Kiss I notice a big separation from what I expected. The song doesn’t feature any guitars (other than a bass guitar) for the entire first half of the song when it intensifies a bit. Rather than guitars, the first half of the song is dominated by dark and apocalyptic sounding keyboards, as well as soft and low vocals by singer and mainman Anders Manga. When the song intensifies, the keyboards still remain, but they remain as effective as when they dominated the intro.
Bloody Hammers keep this keyboard driven sound through most of Lovely Sort of Death, and also maintain the slow gothic sound on a few other songs such as The Reaper Comes, which does have some keys, but its rhythm mostly concentrates on gently played guitars and no drums until halfway through the song, after which there still aren’t that many drums to speak of. Closing track Catastrophe has vocals that I think resemble HIM, though the vocals are as far as I’ll go in comparing the two bands. Shadow Out of Time has what I think to be the best mix of keyboards and guitars on the album which makes the song one of the strongest songs on Lovely Sort of Death from a composition standpoint.
Lovely Sort of Death does have a mix of heavy songs as well. Three songs in a row in fact, as well as a fourth that comes later. Infinite Gaze to the Sun is the first taste of speaker shaking heavy metal heard on the album. Stoke the Fire further intensifies things before Ether takes things down a bit with its slow groovy sound. All three of these tracks, particularly the latter two, remind me of the doom metal sound Bloody Hammers displayed on their previous album. Astral Traveller, which is the fourth heavy song heard a bit later on, is another fast and dominant track similar to Stoke the Fire.
To mix things up a bit, Bloody Hammers have a couple of songs that I think to be somewhat hybrids of their gothic side and heavy metal side. Messalina is a song that could fit on a non-gothic heavy metal album as an experimental track, while Light Comes Alive has music that I find to be heavy, and in a very unique way the song is both dark and upbeat, making for what I easily find to be the most unique song on Lovely Sort of Death. Both of these songs are dispersed throughout the album giving Lovely Sort of Death an entertaining mix of tracks that won’t leave listeners feeling like they’re hearing the same song twice.
Bloody Hammers seem to have coined the term “dark wave” to describe their sound. I like that term as I think it describes the sound of Lovely Sort of Death quite well, as some of the songs seem to sound like heavy and very dark new wave songs. Even the heaviest songs have keyboards in them to add effect, despite the keyboards being hidden behind the heavier music at some points.
To make one quick comparison to their previous album, I do wish Bloody Hammers explored some more of the doom metal sound heard on Under Satan’s Sun. As a standalone album though, Lovely Sort of Death still keeps my opinions of Bloody Hammers high. The songs still sound good, and they don’t really sound like anything else anyone is doing, making for another unique listening experience.
“Shadow Out of Time”
8.5 (Out of 10)
|1||Bloodletting on the Kiss||4:54|
|2||Lights Come Alive||4:15|
|3||The Reaper Comes||4:33|
|5||Infinite Gaze to the Sun||5:11|
|6||Stoke the Fire||4:05|
|8||Shadow out of Time||5:19|