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Under Satan’s Sun

Napalm (2014)
Rating: 6/10

I was rather nonplussed by the last conjuration of occult rockers Bloody Hammers. It seems that with all these bands who are clearly obsessed with 1960s and 1970s horror, there is a real cause for concern for the cynics. This style of doomy metal is cluttering up the bandwagon, and appears to be more about image rather than actual sound quality.

Bloody Hammers caused quite a stir with their debut offering but the novelty is wearing thin, and with what seems barely a breather between albums, the North Carolina cranks are back at it with their third effort.

So, once again they move under the cloak of darkness to create more sounds of the underground, but in spite of the catchy nature of it all, it’s a rather tepid, fuzzy goth rock experience that struggles to find its feet. I’m sure that those of you who adore the likes of Ghost B.C. may find Bloody Hammers as intriguing as the Swedes, but I can’t for the life of me get excited by this plodding slab of snooze rock.

The opener is ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ which, as usual, exhibits the warning moans of vocalist Anders Manga who is quick to tell us that “There’s a killer among us all, A phantom that has come to see you fall”, but I’m not really convinced by the tinkling of the ivories or the laboured pop-edged plod which seems also to be the major downfall of Ghost B.C. who, without the costumes, would surely be considered less than ghoulish. ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ is based on the 1976 movie of the same name which dramatized the case of the so-called “phantom killer”, who was said to have attacked at least eight people in Texarkana in 1946. Sadly, the music is far less weighty and atmospheric than the film, because Bloody Hammers have become predictable oh so quickly.

‘Spearfinger’ offers a touch more malice, but once the riff melts into the ghoulish rhythmic plod, Manga just becomes embedded in the role that he has occupied since the band’s inception, but his style is one that never varies, in spite of Devallia’s orgy of organ.

The theme continues; ‘Death Does Us Part’ promises so much – just like every other Bloody Hammers track – but it soon becomes less about the creep and more about the clomp. The drumming is simple and certainly complements the Bloody Hammers style of oaken nod, but it also borders on the boring, with ‘Welcome To The Horror Show’ and the title track straining at the bit to become something they clearly aren’t capable of being.

The distorted fuzziness and that pulsating organ have become somewhat rather archetypal of contemporary occult rock, but there’s just no oomph to this rather sleepy lump of dark-tinged rock. When Anders yawns “No threat of an oncoming wrath” on the title track, I can sense the disappointment because the third opus from this bunch remains just like the rest – safe as houses and about as eerie as an episode of Scooby Doo, but at least the cartoon came up with some interesting characters.

As this obsession with B-movie schlock continues, I’m growing tired of its allure, and find more charm and harm in the shadow of the thunderstorm rather than the sizzling hue of Satan’s sun.

Neil Arnold

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