Released: 2016, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Well now, this is genuinely interesting…
From their self-titled 2012 debut through 2014’s UNDER SATAN’S SUN, Bloody Hammers have largely been a reliable but predictable occult rock/doom outfit. Sticking to the typical stoner, Sabbathian trappings a la Orchid, Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, et al, those albums were all good fun, but still kinda generic in the grand scheme of things. Which probably fed the decision for the Charlotte based quartet to shake things up on their latest full length, LOVELY SORT OF DEATH. Trading Tony Iommi for Peter Steele, LOVELY SORT OF DEATH takes the band into uncharted goth territory with some surprisingly strong results.
Opting to fill the void left in the absence of bands like Type O Negative and Sentenced, LOVELY SORT OF DEATH pulls as much dark inspiration from their Sisters of Mercy collection it does from the first for Sab records. Out of the gate, tracks like “Bloodletting on the Kiss” and “Lights Come Alive” are dominated by synth passages and an almost passive aggressive delivery. It’s a more slow build, cerebral type of heavy – not at all in your face, but definitely under your skin. The first half of the album is frontloaded with tunes like this, and depending on your tolerance level for this kind of experimentation, that might be a deal breaker for you. But if you persevere forward, tracks like “Stoke the Fire” and “Astral Traveler” all turn up to 11, invoking the spirit of early 2000’s Paradise Lost, Moonspell, and Candlemass. “Ether” is the closest thing to a traditional doom track on the album, pulling some “Children of the Grave” chug alongside the electronics and upping the ante on heavy.
Sonic left turns like LOVELY SORT OF DEATH tend to be pretty divisive among fans, but you’ve got to applaud an established band for taking a creative risk. I would’ve preferred a more balanced arrangement of tunes across the album, but that just means I’ll have to play the album on shuffle next time to mix things up.