Friday, November 25, 2011

Hammer Fight - Hammer Fight EP (2011)

Not to be confused with the indie computer game of the same title, this Hammer Fight is instead a band of New Jersey devils running a sizable risk in their mash-up of styles. At the heart of this EP, you can clearly recognize a massive influence from punk, hardcore, rock and in particular the more bruising side of the NWOBHM spectrum made manifest by the might Motörhead. The vocals aren't quite so smokey as Lemmy, and the riffs are a bit more punch than blues, but it's hard not to envision something like "Down the Line" as other than a ticked off hybrid of newer, thrash driven Motörhead and Sick of It All, with perhaps a touch of Fear, and there ain't nothing wrong with that in my book.

Several of the songs definitely function on a more directly rock & roll axis, like "Disas-tour" and its wavy, bruising guitar boogie; or "If You Want Blood (You Got It)", which sounds like AC/DC if they went NYHC, complete with dense background shouts. Then there are others which are more distinctly infused with thrash, hardcore and punk reminiscent of Sheer Terror, Sick of It All, Slapshot, and so forth. Meaty guitar mutes dominate "Down the Line" or "Stuck in the Chamber", while the latter shows the band flexing its traditional metal lead chops. There are even a handful of more inspiring, melodic riffs that feel like a crude mesh of rock & melodic death metal, like "Tears of Unfathomable Sadness", which might just be the most emotional and effective among these seven songs. Hammer Fight keeps it short and sweet: they are well aware that their audience doesn't want more than a 3-4 minute rush of adrenaline.

As a result, even if I wasn't blown over by the material here, I have to admit that they do a good job of not wearing out their welcome. I mentioned earlier that this was a bit of a 'risky' sound they were reaching for, but that wasn't meant as a discouraging remark. Look at a band like Norway's Kvelertak, whose popularity has swollen performing a mix of rock & roll, spry punk energy and black metal vocals. Hammer Fight isn't quite the same sound, but they have a similar skill at fusing genres as if they had always been crops in the same garden. The production is punchy and honest, the riffs usually fun despite a death or nuance and invention, and it seems ready-made for moshing without any need for tons of stupid breakdowns. Not the sort of music you'd want to take to prom, perhaps, but more then sufficient to score your next wrestling meet.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

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