Its no secret that The South of England is currently responsible for a tidal wave of pit destroying, mosh-ready hardcore bands giving UKHC a well placed tan boot to the backside (and in the case of Brutality Will Prevail last week, even deservedly windmilling it's way into the charts) but, as I've said here many times, the sounds coming from the North are not to be ignored. Fitting of the old adage “it's grim up North”, there's currently a whole host of anti-social and vicious bands, swapping out beatdowns for blackened misery, that are bleeding from the upper reaches of the map. Manchester's Hammers are no exception.
Formed in 2008, Hammers have been working hard with multiple releases and some truly mammoth European tours under their belts. They've took their knocks (costly van repairs in foreign countries, the bane of any touring bands existence) but they're still going long after many underground UK bands would've knocked it on the head. This new LP displays a band invigorated, hungry and showing absolutely no signs of wear. Hammers are rugged; they're the sound of callouses, of dirt under the fingernails. Technically proficient but never edging into the mathematical thanks to a crusted and cancerous heaviness (think early Mastodon, back when they were a far more volatile set of musicians). Vardogr is a blistering tour de force.
The liberal use of the technical high notes and riffs played higher up the fretboard that offset the guttural crunch nods unexpectedly to Converge at their grimmest (You Fail Me era; clanging discord to the guitars, dizzying guitar and drum fills). Brad Boatright does another incredible production job (his name has been attached to so many good records this year), allowing their flair for precise songwriting to shine but also managing to keep it dripping in filth and grit. Fast and faster is the order of the day, songs sputter and fizz like fireworks; 'Trepanning Infinity' is especially insane. It's their sparse use of heavier-than-thou grooves though, dotted among the erratic riffing, that makes them all the more spectacular when they hit. The last 40 seconds of 'Sleep For a Year', after a tumbling and restless minute or so of jagged riffs and spiralling lead guitar, locks into an almighty head banger that cuts you in half. The same can be said of the end of 'The Sun's Journey Through The Night' which climaxes with a mid-paced wrecking ball of a riff/double bass drum combo. Hammers have added yet another gut-punch of a release to the current rich tapestry of UK heavy music and as long as you don't value your ears, I'd urge you to check this out.