When Manchester’s Hammers originally called it a day a few years ago, it was hard to shake the feeling that the UK hardcore scene had lost one of its most innovative and interesting bands, so to say that the news of the band's return was warmly welcomed is an understatement. And If their recent European tour wasn’t cause enough for celebration, they’ve also just released what may be their most aggressive and intricate recording to date.
An ominous layer of feedback greets the listener upon pressing play, before ‘Casting Spells’ kicks in with a feral, wide-eyed intensity. ‘Trepanning Infinity’ strikes with the deadly hyperactive d-beat/blast combo that’ll be familiar to any fans of the band, but with a more streamlined approach this time round, aiming straight for the jugular and successfully tearing it to shreds. While some bands of this ilk run the risk of falling flat on their face with aimless displays of angst, Hammers manage to sound genuinely unhinged whilst retaining an impressive amount of focus and clarity, and keep things varied and interesting enough to keep the listener gripped; you’ll probably find yourself alternating between stages of furious fist pumping and slack jawed awe whilst spinning this.
The staggering, sea-sick lurch of ‘Endoteric’ bursts into the ferocious ‘The Sun’s Journey Through The Night’, complete with riffs that sound like an anxious and sleep deprived Trap Them coming off a week long amphetamine binge. Rather than allowing them time to mellow, it seems taking a break has renewed the band’s vigour, and much of previous album ‘Orogeny’s subtle hints of melancholy have been replaced with sheer, balls-out fury (just wrap your ears around the utterly psychotic rampage of ‘The Spectacle’), making ‘Vardøgr’ an incredibly angry sounding record, doused with liberal splashes of piss and vinegar. That’s not to say that Hammers’ aural battery has become emotionally one-dimensional however (the turbulent chugging of ‘A Coffin In The Shape Of A Chapel’, for example, contains that same unrestrained sense of despair that made ‘Year One’ such a gripping listen), it’s just that whilst previously the band seemed to find themselves abandoned and confused in a stark, hostile world, now they’ve struck back with vicious intent, determined to destroy all in their path (as evidenced by the absolutely raging ’22:22’).
There’s no doubt about it – Hammers are back, and twice as angry and pissed off than ever before. If you dig the kind of bleak hardcore currently being supplied by bands from across the pond like Trap Them, Nails and Dead In The Dirt, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Hammers are a European band that can easily match the aforementioned acts in terms of ferocity, passion and sheer pulse racing awesomeness. In ‘Vardøgr’, the band has created a powerful and engaging record that will remain with you long after its all too brief 20 minute running time has expired.