BLOODY HAMMERS
"Songs Of Unspeakable Terror"

(Napalm)

1. A Night To Dismember
2. Hands Of The Ripper
3. Witchfinder General
4. Not Of This Earth
5. The Ones Who Own The Dark
6. Waking The Dead
7. Night Of The Witch
8. We Are The Damned
9. The Brain That Wouldn't Die
10. Lucifer's Light
11. I Spit On Your Corpse

RATING: 8/10

North Carolina's BLOODY HAMMERS have spent most of the last decade as one of rock music's most underappreciated acts. The husband-and-wife duo of Anders Manga (vocals/bass/guitars) and Devallia (organ/piano/keyboards) have reliably become jacks-of-all-trades throughout their existence, mastering everything they've tried so far, from the hypnotic stoner-rock grooves that propelled 2014's "Under Satan's Sun" to the '80s-influenced goth-rock that made 2016's "Lovely Sort of Death" a fun ride. No matter what direction they turn their musical proclivities towards, their discography's main point of consistency is an aura of haunting atmosphere that is bolstered by Manga's melodic croons and lyrics that appeal to a spooky sense of the dark arts.

The duo's latest record, "Songs Of Unspeakable Terror", is their career's most straightforwardly accessible record. Save for "Lucifer's Light"'s brooding display of acoustic guitar and orchestral balladry, BLOODY HAMMERS uses this record as an opportunity to engage in hard-driving rock. Luckily, this direction is a successful step for the duo, as their mastery of songcraft results in the entire record being a breezy listening session of catchy rockers, while Manga's vocal croons and brief interludes maintain the slightly gothic aura that the duo has become known for. The result is a happy medium between late-'90s MISFITS horror-punk sensibilities and VOLBEAT's heavy pop-rock.

Their newest record's overall sound is not original, but Manga and Devallia show their mastery of this latest turn in their sound by never letting any songs overstay their welcome while still packing plenty of riffs and singalong shouts in every song. The album launches with a fast-paced gallop on "A Night To Dismember", with Manga's vocals booming over riffs that chug-along with an infectious energy. The MISFITS influences remain prominent throughout the more upbeat tracks such as "Waking The Dead" and "We Are The Damned", but the duo avoids the pitfalls of one-note worship with other tracks throughout the record. "Hands Of The Ripper" is a groovy stomper that shows off the hypnotic stoner rock guitars that Manga has shown expertise at on earlier records. "Not Of This Earth" is a catchy head-bopper that could pass for a horror-pop spin on the mid-tempo side of LIFE OF AGONY's catalog. Manga's croons are organized into beautifully layered sing-along choruses on "The Ones Who Own The Dark" as the most melodic guitar work of the record lurks underneath the verses.

The sole respite from the rock does seem ill-placed, as "Lucifer's Light" would have made for a great moody album closer after nearly thirty minutes of straight-up horror rock. But other than that, "Songs Of Unspeakable Terror" is simply a perfectly executed slab of darkness-themed heavy rock. If you worship at the altars of THE MISFITS and THE CRAMPS, BLOODY HAMMERS will rock you right through the doldrums of the remaining winter months.

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