|2. || Dead City Radio
|3. || Shut Your Eyes
|4. || Sick Like Our Crimes
|5. || Fortress
|6. || Lordess
|7. || Thunderers
|8. || The Hell With You
|9. || Dweller On The Threshold
CD | INIT-50
The debut full-length from Lawrence, Kansas thrashers Hammerlord. Ex-members of The Esoteric and Caligari, and a current member of The Blinding Light. Vinyl pressing coming soon!
"The mark of any true metal band is within the senses. Can you hear axes grinding and drumsticks pounding? Can you feel tremors as throaty vocals reverberate through your body? Can you smell droplets of sweat flinging around a mosh pit? Can you see the blood dripping from calloused fingers?
Can you taste the metal?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, there's a chance you’ve heard Hammerlord.
This self-titled debut album sets out to prove that Lawrence-based Hammerlord can become a master of the local metal scene. Striking with aggressive force and berating the eardrums, the group uses an equally thunderous but cohesive balance of wailing guitars, bombarding drums and bass, and guttural vocals to drive that point home.
By the end of lead-off track "Metalization," there's no doubt you've experienced metal at its most brutal and stripped-down form. This boisterous tone continues into "Dead City Radio," during which vocalist Stevie Cruz confidently proclaims, "We shall reclaim what they exploit. The metal is ours."
Hammerlord's '80s thrash-metal inspirations shine through the album, calling the Big Four to mind — Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Drummer Adam Mitchell channels his inner Dave Lombardo with fluttering double bass kicks in "Sick Like Our Crimes." He churns out a melodic drum beat in the instrumental "Fortress." With stark-raving solos that can be heard only by wild animals and guitar gurus, you can almost feel skin tearing from the dueling fingertips of guitarists Ty Scott and JP Gaughan. Bassist Terry Taylor keeps the band in step with thick, dark bass tones.
This fierce, nine-track debut showcases Hammerlord as a group of veteran musicians from such successful bands as The Esoteric, The Blinding Light and Caligari. The album also presents a band that can pound out solidly composed, headbanging metal. While staying current, Hammerlord rewinds to an era where heavy metal was about moshing to a vigorous beat instead of drowning in an enraged, downtuned debacle of misplaced screams and overdone bass tones.
Members of the band declare, "No wimps. No false metal." And they mean it."
- Michelle O’Brien
Give Me Back #5:
"There is definitely a large resurgence of two things these days: thrash, and over-the-top metal. I'm certainly not going to complain about either one, but that does mean that there will be a lot of output in both departments. The good news about Hammerlord is that you will not be misled as to what is going on here. Though I have ti say that I was not quite expecting this interpretation. The band has a sound that seems to come from more of a metacore/hxc background than straight metal or thrash. For the most part, the double bass pedal drums are constantly firing off rounds. The guitars chug often, and every now and then throw out tech grind parts reminiscent of groups like The Red Chord. As for the vocals, it took me a minute to place them, and then I realized: Indecision. They are a dead ringer for that sound. On the plus side, they are all skilled musicians: it does take a lot of practice (even vocally) to do this sort of thing properly and tight. And the album does have a very well produced sound. However, especially since this is a style of music I listen to often, I think it may be either a bit too schizophrenic or distant from the genre it purports to be a part of. I'm not sure that someone hearing this offhand would want to call it thrash metal. Though they certainly try to pull out all the stops, from the Manowar inspired lyrics, to a cover featuring: a voluptuous woman in an armor bikini wielding a hammer, skulls, wolves, lighning, and a crow.- -Denman C. Anderson
Nobody would typically associate the wheat field and suburb speckled corner of Northeastern Kansas with bloody-fanged wolves and godless barbarians on a bender of death n' destruction, but the seasoned collective of skull-bashers known as HAMMERLORD have done well to change the landscape with their maniacal debut. Though names like THE ESOTERIC, CALIGARI, THE BLINDING LIGHT and NODES OF RANVIER pop up when looking at the band's resume, HAMMERLORD crushes any expectations set by the member's former gigs and instead sinks both horns deep into the frenzied world of 80's thrash.
Where more than a few of the current crop of retro-thrashers walk gingerly on that fine line between "true" and "trend," HAMMERLORD leaves no doubt that they spent at least a good portion of their salad days destroying their bedrooms to the tune of "Kill 'Em All", "Reign In Blood" and countless other speed-addled classics. In other words, these boys aren't fucking around. Guitarist Ty Scott has done well to capture the essence of what metal was in the mid-80's his buzzsaw tone and (pun intended) hammering riffs. The melodically-tinged "Sick Like Our Crimes" and blistering ode to metallic loyalty "Dead City Radio" being among the six-stringer's finest moments. More melodic death influence prevails on "Lordess", which is also features some pleasantly outside-the-box soloing from second guitarist J.P Gaughan as well as being one of the only track to properly display bassist Terry Taylor in the mix. Impressive throughout the album, drummer Adam Mitchell earns his alias of "Hammerlord" on the percussive soliloquy "Fortress". This Bonham-esque minute and a half sounds as if Mitchell were using the hammers of Thor himself in place of puny little sticks. Looking at the big picture, a drum solo in the middle of the disc might be a tad unnecessary, but entertaining nonetheless. Frontman Stevie Cruz (THE ESOTERIC) brings a venomous and throaty set of pipes to the table that exudes the album's overall 'death to false metal' vibe. Though a better mix might have done "Hammerlord" a bit more justice, the album's lack of polish is a big part of its charm. The raw element allows this disc to do exactly what it was meant to do; bang the head that does not bang.
Sadly, I don't expect HAMMERLORD to be a focal point of the fine folks at the Kansas Tourism Bureau, the thought of rampaging Conan types running loose through the streets of a state that boasts a zip code of 666 should be more than enough to prove that metal is alive and well in the heartland. (7/10)
- - Ryan Ogle
Like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath before, Hammerlord proudly announces its name during a track on its debut album. The Lawrence group, which features former members of the Esoteric and Evermourn, proves equally forthcoming about its chosen genre, inserting the phrase "heavy metal" into several songs. Having established its identity and calling, Hammerlord starts branching out from its power-thrash formula, taking a black-metal detour into grim, foresty ambience with "Sick Like Our Crimes" and aptly using darker tonal shades during "Shut Your Eyes," a song about falling into a colorless abyss. Stevie Cruz uses clean harmonic vocals and a killer Danzig impersonation sparingly yet effectively, when he's not screaming himself wheezy over spiraling riffs. Hammerlord delivers a few silly lines (Bang the head that doesn't bang!) and knowing references (We ride the lightning), but purists need not fear: These are dedicated veterans of the metal army, not condescending hipster mercenaries.- Andrew Miller