The name generator for metal bands suddenly started coughing and falling apart. Ancient iron creaked and the large vat showed cracks near the bottom. Up on the ramp a throng of elves were shoveling new ingredients down into the hellish mixing bowl, unaware of what was going on, blind to the approaching disaster. Deathhammer was being wheeled up to the end of the plank, it took three elves to tip it over into the black bowl. It was the fabled last drop. One of the slaves near the bottom was the first to see it. “She can’t handle more DEATH, captain”, was the last thing the he managed to say before the whole thing exploded, spraying steel, hammer, dragon, gall and waste in all directions.
Originality has never been a worry in the death metal community, we don’t listen to metal for lyrical insight or clever puns. We listen to it because, at its best, it is a tasty antidote to everything poppy and fresh. It is nostalgia. It is your badly dyed black hair in high school, your faded denim, your last stand of dangerous rebellion among all the babies, loans and lattes of your late 20’s. It feels good that new generations still don the oversized denim vest with the Venom back-patch and keep grunting out stories of cartoonish hellfire. The drinks are made of barley, the hair is cut for banging and the horns are mandatory.
Deathhammer hail from the Norwegian outskirts, to be more specific the duo is split between Hamar and Grimstad. It works to their advantage. Far from the large metal hubs, they don’t seem touched by current trends and poseur ideas. When metal is forged in Oslo, Trondheim and Stavanger it tends to carry that bitter aftertaste of drumtriggers and metalcore breakdowns. When Deathhammer suit up, the style is fast, old school thrash metal with a bit of death to spice it up. Like the brilliant Nekromantheon and Obliteration, this duo brings back the 80’s in both style and production. Shrieking vocals, palm-mute till you bleed, bloody rites at the cemetery at night.
There is a good reason the old school thrash metal is gaining ground these days. First of all we are tired to death of the over-produced, drum-triggered bland death metal that Relapse continue to spew out. Second, the old connection between punk and metal becomes more obvious in the demo-like production of the thrashers; it opens the gates to a whole legion of new fans. Last, but not least, on a musical level it is way more catchy than anything else on the market.
Onward to the pits quickly grows on you, especially the vocals. It is hard to guess how old Deathhammer are by looking at the pictures, but the vocal style has a definite adolescent feel, something that works to their advantage. You know that great metal trick where you pitch your vocals really high at the end of the sentence? Both hilarious and effective. Putting guitar and drums up front and leaving the singer to shriek in the background enhances the garage-image and steers them into the path of Darkthrone and the journey to become more punk and less arrogant. Fun fact: Look at the cover of Darkthrone’s brilliant FOAD album. Can you spot the Deathhammer logo?
Tracks that stand out include the opening assault “Deaththrashing sacrifice” (don’t you just love that mental image) and ridiculously catchy “Fullmoon sorcery”. Changing up the pace does wonders in a genre that usually has you wheezing for a break halfway through the album. I have been playing the record for a solid week and it stays golden. Deathhammer deserve a spot on the podium when we crown the winners of the new old thrash of 2012.
PS: You wanna get the full Deathhammer experience? Look at their website, nothing says rural thrash like blood red letters on a black backdrop. Website design style: Community center computer workshop, circa 1998. Death to all posers.