Bloody Hammers has never strayed from a core horror aesthetic, but their fifth full-length album is unlike anything else they’ve done before. The Summoning presents a return to heavier pastures after the more subdued goth rock flavor on 2016’s Lovely Sort of Death, but it’s pretty far removed from the slinky occult doom of their first couple efforts. On the contrary, the band has doubled down on an upbeat goth metal template with songs like lead single “Now the Screaming Starts” and “Tales That Witness Madness” being among their most aggressive to date.
While the Bloody Hammers method is always built around the baritone croons regardless of context, the musicians take on a harder, more precise dynamic for The Summoning. Most notably, the drums are much punchier and even slip in some double bass patterns while the guitar tone has a noticeably beefier crunch. The keyboards also keep a steady presence throughout, providing grandiose layers during the riffier segments and tastefully taking over the softer tracks. The production is polished, and the playing is very clean, but it’s thankfully not to the point where everything sounds plastic.
The album’s strict adherence to compact four to five-minute runtimes would raise concerns about lazy songwriting, but the individual songs show off a lot of variety. The more goth-flavored tracks end up being among the most memorable as “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” starts things off with an urgent hook while “Welcome to Darkness” features a danceability sure to trigger associations with Sisters of Mercy. There’s also plenty of room for a couple toned down ventures as “The Beast is Coming Out” has an almost industrial sense of restraint while “Condemned, The Prisoner” makes for a somber Nick Cave-style pastiche.
I’m not sure if Bloody Hammers will ever reach the heights of their 2012 debut album but their fifth full-length comes out strong enough. Its heavy goth flavor has more in common with The 69 Eyes than Uncle Acid and it may be a little too cheesy for some listeners, but there’s enough energy and catchiness to keep it from getting too jarring in the grand scheme of things. It’s interesting how Bloody Hammers is able to jump between different styles while still keeping to a few core elements. In that sense, I suppose we shouldn’t get too comfortable…
“Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”
“The Beast is Coming Out”
“Welcome to Darkness”
“Condemned, The Prisoner”