Released: 2007, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Okay…let’s get this out of the way. Gallhammer is an all-girl, Japanese three-piece punk/thrash/black metal band that could not play any of their current instruments until 2003. They are fully endorsed by Darkthrone’s Fenriz and if one is to believe the press release, cult heroes in the Japanese live underground scene.
Drawing obvious influence from the raw minimalism of Hellhammer, Gallhammer is about as musically sloppy, unpolished and seemingly unskilled as their mentor. The three members were all singers in their previous bands and one even played saxophone in a jazz band! Peaceville Records, apparently seeing Gallhammer as some sort of diamond in the rough, signed the band and has unleashed THE DAWN OF…, a collection of demos packaged with a DVD of rough live performances, to introduce the band to the masses. The tone here is dark and anyone expecting those awful high-pitched vocals of Puffy AmiYumi better look elsewhere. Lo-fi to the max with endless amounts of hissing, drop-outs and feedback, the musical tempo shifts from snail’s-paced doom (“Crucifixion,” “May Our Father Die,” “Friction”) to speedy, Motorhead/Darkthrone-influenced punk/thrash (“Speed of Blood,” “Insane Beautiful Sunnyday Slaughter”). Tracks like “Hallucination” generate an unpleasant feeling of creepiness and the foreboding ambience of such a minimalist recording really starts to work on the listener.
This being written, one might expect a glowing review. Well, let me be frank: Gallhammer is friggin’ awful! Even those familiar with Hellhammer, early Darkthrone and other “kvlt” black metal bands whose questionable musicianship and idea of a recording budget is two soup cans and a piece of string, will find this trio of talent-strapped “musicians” to be an abomination. It is obvious that Peaceville sees Gallhammer as a marketing cash cow (Japanese girls playing ugly blackened punk/thrash) and whether the band itself is in on the joke remains to be seen, but any redeeming qualities of Vivian Slaughter’s wretched wheezing, Mika Penetrator’s simplistic riffs or the off-time rhythm section of Slaughter and drummer Risa Reaper point this collection right to the rubbish bin. Ambience and emotion is one thing, but the absence of any writing skills, musical ability or, judging by the accompanying DVD, stage presence leave Gallhammer dead in the water.
Of course, the same was said about Hellhammer twenty-five years ago and the mighty Celtic Frost rose from that, so who knows…maybe I will look back on this review when I am sixty and hang my head in shame at the genius of Gallhammer. Nah, I don’t think so.
KILLER KUTS: “Speed of Blood,” “Crucifixion,” “May Our Father Die,” “Hallucination,” “Insane Beautiful Sunnyday Slaughter,” “Beyond The Hate Red”