“Under Satan’s Sun”, the latest release from North Carolina’s Bloody Hammers is veritable aural feast for those of us obsessed with Hammer House of Horror movies, Blue Oyster Cult melodies and satanic tales of yore. That will be all of us, then.
Channeling their best Black Sabbath riff appreciation society meeting for most of this record, “Under Satan’s Sun” has an organic, almost primal feel to it. At one level, you could probably see these Americans as the non-theatrical antidote to Ghost BC. As a live proposition you certainly get none of the staged posturing beloved of the Swedes- this is first and foremost a band of musicians ploughing a brilliantly realised furrow and not really caring whether you like it or not.
Be under no illusion, gentlemen, we like this; we like it a lot. Built on a song writing chassis that you would describe as classic, Bloody Hammers create a solid tone and groove that ambles along quite nicely; there’s a comfort in the pace of these songs that feels natural and allows the melodies to creep insidiously under your skin- the effect is both enchanting and unsettling, which is presumably what the band have striven for.
Allied to this is a talent for narrative and dynamic; ‘The Town That Dread Sundown’, ‘The Moon-Eyed People’ and the none-more-doomy ‘The Necromancer’ all could be classic horror tales in their own right but they are delivered with a lightness of touch that belies their twisted content. Bloody Hammers are clearly exceptional musicians but, be reassured, you don’t get a pile of self indulgent fretwankery or anything as obviously annoying as that. On the contrary, Bloody Hammers understand the value of the whole being more important than the sum of its parts and the band have succeeded in creating an aural experience that is both compelling and bewitching (pun entirely intended).
You could never accuse Bloody Hammers of being lazy- this is their third release in as many years- and that creative output has paid dividends. On “Under Satan’s Sun”, they have built themselves a decent palette from which they have put together a solid and often intriguing album. I could invoke the cliche about the devil having all the best tunes but then you knew that already.