Halloween has come early in 2021. Goth rock super couple Anders Manga and Devillia must have taken its cancellation harder than most. Songs of Unspeakable Terror will be getting a fair few spins in ten months, that's for sure. Fans of Black Sabbath, Ghost, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and especially Misfits will enjoy this classic take on the occult rock formula. Bloody Hammers know the material well enough to make their sixth album a hit with genre diehards.
“Hands of the Ripper” is an instant highlight. Its rolling doom riff and horrorshow lyrics draw on what makes Bloody Hammers great. “Night of The Witch” shows the band fire all cylinders for one of the best tracks they’ve written in years. Songs of Unspeakable Terror keeps things punchy, with the longest song just scratching the three and a half minute mark. It’s a departure from earlier releases but it works with the new energy Bloody Hammers have found in their writing. They’ve always been influenced by early Misfits, but now they’ve become full-blown cultists.
Nowhere is this stronger than in “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die,” a horror-punk classic in the making. In under three minutes, Bloody Hammers do their heroes proud and blast through what sounds like a lost jam between Danzig and The Ramones. Songs like this thrive on rhythm and the bass and drums click over Manga’s fuzzy guitar tone. A must-listen for new listeners and old alike.
“Lucifer’s Light,” the longest song on Songs of Unspeakable Terror, shakes up the album with a sinister looping riff over choral vocals straight out of an older Tim Burton movie. Ghost have found success in this sort of thing, but they never sound as creepy as Bloody Hammers do here. Maybe it’s the inaudible whispers in the background or the way the marching snare drum builds and builds to a climax that keeps delaying. By the time the song does break, you are fully drawn in.
Unfortunately, Songs of Unspeakable Terror is ultimately a misfire. For every song that works, it feels like there is one that doesn’t, and the Misfits comparisons start to become overwhelming by the time “I Spit On Your Grave” finishes the album off. Bloody Hammers at their best are an essential part of the retro doom rock movement. But here, they can sometimes come off as derivative. There are hundreds and hundreds of bands that can write songs like “Waking The Dead,” “We Are The Damned,” “Not Of This Earth,” and “The Ones Who Own The Dark.” It’s disappointing to hear Bloody Hammers putting them out alongside choice cuts like “The Brain That Would Not Die.” After all, this is the band that blew our minds with The Summoning last year. They can do much better.
Songs of Unspeakable Terror isn’t on Bloody Hammers' level, but it does contain gems that make it worth a listen. Expect some of them to be playing at your next Halloween party, whenever that might be.