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Even Finns can fail - 30%

Felix 1666, August 4th, 2021

Sometimes I think that Finnish bands can do no wrong. How naïve. Therefore I really have to thank the dudes of Violent Hammer, because they opened my eyes. Unfortunately, this is more or less the only positive thing I can say about this combo.

Their noise meanders between death metal and a few grindcore elements. Perhaps they want to sound like Terrorizer, but they do not even reach the quality of the lukewarm albums their role models released after “World Downfall”. Of course, “Riders of the Wasteland” does not lack vehemence and brutality, but there is something wrong when these two features are the only ones that shape the music. Expressed differently, Violent Hammer have no compositional talent, their music fails to present menacing, ominous or numinous details, it lacks atmosphere, the vocals get lost in their own reverb and so on.

Especially the lead vocalist cannot convince. Honestly speaking, his constant growling appears as the ultimate triumph of monotony. Of course, it can be fun to listen to one-dimensional songs and albums. But it always needs stable compositions and, as indicated above, this is where the horde from Suomi fails completely. No cruel catchiness, no hooks, no comprehensible patterns – the list of deficiencies is long. Well, perhaps true death metal maniacs will enjoy the revival of the Sunlight Studio sound of the guitars. I guess the productions of the Swedish pioneers have been a massive influence for Violent Hammer. This means that the album sounds acceptable, but simultaneously antiquated.

By the way, did I really write “album”? The inferno ends after 25 minutes. To avoid a shit storm: I know that quality beats quantity, remember “Reign in Blood” and yada yada yada. But lacking in quantity does not automatically mean that a band scores in terms of quality. Violent Hammer prove evidence in this context. Once in a blue moon it happens that the stale offering is pepped up with a fine ten-seconds-guitar-solo (“Screams of Agony”) or a relatively distinctive riff raises its head (don’t miss the slow sections of the title track, if you really want to check the release). Too little, too late. This is an output for people who need every snippet of death metal in order to survive. Everybody else will probably find better options to spend her or his money.

Screams of Agony - 80%

Vaseline1980, August 2nd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Hells Headbangers Records

I don't remember where I've read it exactly, but in a comment section somewhere there was a guy who wrote that a violent hammer is better than a pacifist hammer. This statement makes as much sense as the band's name, which is none, but I just wanted to share this with you, the reader. And in all fairness, as a band name it really gives a good idea of what the music is going to sound like. That Creed cover band your sister's husband formed to get through his midlife crisis isn't going to be called Violent Hammer, that's for sure.

The band immediately kicks it into high gear right from the start, not wasting any time to get the point across. This is savage, primitive and pummeling black/death metal intent on breaking bones and mangling bodies. A major influence is the death metal infused black metal style of a band like Archgoat or Conqueror, with fast primitive battering and raw tremelo picking alternating with slower sections designed to pummel and pound, all within a frame that has no place for melody or any other musical subtleties. Some guitar leads do pop up throughout, but these mostly are violent bursts of fast picked a-melodic insanity in the best Blasphemy tradition, so no Yngwie Malmsteen shit here. The vocals are gruff and cavernous sounding reverb-drenched bellows, that complement the sonic assault very well, although they are pretty one-sided in execution. As a whole the band reminds me of a rougher, tougher version of what a band like Bestial Mockery did in the early 00's, being a high-octane crust punk fueled black/death metal band with some thrash leanings added. It's harsh in execution, utterly primitive in sound and the album's over before you know it, so basically everything you could want from a band in this style.

This is some great no-frills black/death metal, but a few minor points of criticism remain. As mentioned above, there are the somewhat one-sided vocals, but the individual tracks come roaring by in a way that sounds like it's one long song. I had this album on my Mp3 player on a loop, and it was kinda difficult to discern where the last track ended and the first one commenced. Still, this is extreme metal primitivism that has no need for any niceties, as it is meant to pummel the listener into submission with raw power, and in that it well and truly succeeds.

This is recommended listening for all who like it raw, primitive and belligerent.