Black Hammer - Witnessless Triumph - (7.5/10)
Published on April 29, 2015
Genre:Black / Thrash
After playing drums in Evynkar, a band that eventually morphed into Necroblood, The Iron Messiah (also known as J.K.) formed Black Hammer, where he performs all instruments and vocals. To date, the project released a demo, The Horror, in 2010 and the debut EP, Darker Days Will Come, in 2012. Both releases saw this French act bringing a style of black/thrash that threw back to the early days of Hellhammer and Bathory. The band’s third release, a four track EP titled Witnessless Triumph, was released in March 2015 through Darker Days Productions and sees the band bringing another dose of primal black/thrash.
While the run time is just under twenty minutes, Black Hammer packs a hell of punch in the short time allotted. It would suffice to say that the entire offering could be seen as another slab of throwback black/thrash metal, certainly one that would please fans of Hellhammer and early Sodom, but The Iron Messiah brings a nuanced approach to the typical clang and bang of many Tom G. Warrior emulators. The music brings those oh-so-primordial vibes of the first wave, with a rangy guitar tone and snarled growls. The drums are rather simplistic, not as simple as prior releases mind you, but they are effective given the style, sticking mostly with a straight forward, rollicking style with short bursts of double kicks. It really allows the focus to remain on the primal riffing, which is certainly the centerpiece here.
The riffs actually cover a fairly wide swath of ground throughout, with “A Broken Oath” bringing a mid-tempo riff that sounds like a caveman stomp and the closer, “Remains of the Throne”, bringing faster paced trem riffing with some blasts. The title track manages to weave some subtle melodies via a few minor key accoutrements, bringing a somewhat archaic second wave sound to the mix. The primal style of riffing sounds similar to Gravewurm’s later period work, especially at the beginning of “Lifeless Grounds”, with its sinister, grooving pulse and rangy lead guitar work. Despite the short run time, Black Hammer manages to get a lot done, but it’s hard not to wonder how this would translate into a full length, especially after a trio of short releases.
Regardless of length, Black Hammer’s Witnessless Triumph should please fans of the first wave and fans of the emulators of the first wave. The production is rather raw, but aside from the snare pops being a little too forward the mix sounds solid for the style. Clearly, this is not the most original project in the world, but it’s not meant to be. The future seems bright indeed for Black Hammer, if throwback black/thrash is your kind of thing, so keep an eye on this project.