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The Real World Fades to Black

September 3, 2016

Last night I dreamed of waking up.  I awoke calmly, responding to external stimuli rather than internal volition.  It was the sound of a hyper-agitated dog, actually more wolf than dog, clawing spastically from the other side of the wall behind my headboard that had stirred me from sleep.  I felt comfortable and safe in my ground-floor bedroom, with its dark wood-paneled walls and dull red color scheme.  I inherently grasped an atmosphere of danger in the sparse surrounding rural landscape and knew that I would not open the curtains to look.  The wolf-dog trying to scratch its way in was one of many and I had an awareness of the predatory canines routinely and viciously tearing into some species of rodent that inhabited the “out there.”  It was too early to get up so I briefly considered putting on the headphones that lay next to my pillow and listening to some music to ease my way back into needed sleep.  Even as the thought came though, I knew it was unnecessary as I would easily fall deep asleep as soon as I closed my eyes.

The closing of my dream eyes and tranquil drift back into figment sleep was exactly and oppositely matched by the opening of my flesh eyes and a gentle, genuine wakening.  I felt comfortable and safe in my sixth-floor bedroom, with its plaster walls and off-white color scheme, but I was nonetheless deeply confused.  My mind could not reconcile the sparse, rodent-filled plains and middle-eastern urban landscape I knew to dually exist on the other side of the curtain-covered window.  I wondered why I could no longer hear the wolf-dog’s clawing even as I questioned why I was thinking about wolf-dogs at all.  It was too early to rise so I briefly considered putting on the headphones that lay next to my pillow and listening to some music to ease my way back into needed sleep.  Just as my thoughts coalesced on a specific album but before I could act, my eyes closed and sleep returned.

This morning, I awoke with a strong desire to hear the latest album by Bloody Hammers, Lovely Sort of Death, which I had just received in the mail yesterday.  I read of the gothic rock / doom metal band only recently and have quite enjoyed some of their earlier recordings I’ve been background streaming at work.  I fixed some French toast and watched last evening’s PBS Newshour online while I ate, but the album kept infiltrating my thoughts.  So, comfortably fed and updated on ongoing catastrophes both natural and political back home, I grabbed the iPod and headphones and headed for the elliptical.

Lovely Sort of Death

As first track “Bloodletting on the Kiss” begins, I get an immediate Type O Negative feel — a vibe that carries through the entire album — but also find the mid-80s new wave of Simple Minds repeatedly coming to mind.  The Simple Minds free association continues with “Lights Come Alive,” but third track “The Reaper Comes” conjures instead thoughts of Gary Numan’s dystopian coldness, a sense that proves to permeate the subsequent tracks as well.  While the pace of the album is generally slow, even verging on sluggish early on, things pick up as you go deeper into the tracklist.  In fact, “Infinite Gaze to the Sun” and “Astral Traveler” offer legitimate headbanging opportunities.

This is not warm music.  It is cold and calculated, giving off no feel of having been played by a collaborating set of musicians.  The sense of separate recording of each instrument and vocal is stark, although the impression of an expert hand in the careful, deliberate layering of the individual parts to engender the whole is also clear.  The stratified notes and beats that bind together to form each song give the album a potent, doom-laden heft.  Accomplished in composition but simple in the playing, this music seems crafted in black and white.  Any addition of color would sound out of place, so look for no guitar solos or drum breaks as the songscapes unfold.

I rate this LP highly but imagine it being more for the recoiling rodents out there than for the stirred-up wolf-dogs.  It evokes dim bars sparsely inhabited by moody locals rather than neon-lit clubs filled with enthusiastic partyers.  I’d confidently recommend it to anyone who stoically hopes for happier times to come but doesn’t truly expect them in their heart of hearts.  If you strive to keep hidden a deep sense of cosmic aloneness and regularly find yourself irrationally mired in your own dispiriting thoughts, I think you’d like this one.  On the other hand, if you are generally content with your life and its path, I suspect you may find Lovely Sort of Death somewhat plodding and hard to connect with.

Despite the old-timey horror show look of Bloody Hammers’ Anders Manga and Devallia (above), the mood of their music is less the demented carney violence of Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects and more the alone-in-the woods anxious dread of The Blair Witch Project.

Despite the old-timey horror show look of Bloody Hammers’ Anders Manga and Devallia (above), the mood of their music is less the demented carney violence of Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects and more the alone-in-the woods anxious dread of The Blair Witch Project.

 

 

From → Daydreams, Music

10 Comments
  1. Listening through the pitiful speakers of the desktop is not really a fair test, but I was struck by the prominence of the synths (very 80s sounding in some parts,sampled mellotron in others?) and their absence in the visuals. Real metalheads don’t synth? Liked this track a lot.

    The gothic kaleidoscope of the B&W clip seemed to fit very well with your dream-within-a-dream introduction. What happens to old wolf-dogs, I wonder?

    • Have continued listening a lot since the above and like it more and more. Synths and keyboards run throughout the album; old school hard rockers know the deal!

      As for what happens to old wolf-dogs, I can’t help you with that. I’m too comfortably ensconced behind my scratch-proof walls to venture out and look…

  2. Ooh, I like this! I’ve seen them in the Napalm Records catalogue for a while now but, because of their name, I assumed they’d sound very death metally. I love their smooth, dark sound – like drinking a pint of black velvet … at midnight … in a tomb … down a mineshaft … whilst wearing welder’s goggles.

    Plus these fine folk need to be heartily congratulated, if not carried shoulder high through the ruins, for their committment to LP cover nudity.

  3. You can tell them you just sold a copy for them, on lilac vinyl.

    • Lilac!! If it’s scratch and sniff, even better!

      • A chunk of time further on and I’m really enjoying both the BH albums I bought (yes, I bought two, I didn’t mean to – it just happened).

        Thank you.

        • Yep, didn’t mention it above but I also bought both the one here and Under Satan’s Sun together. This song – “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” – is the one I sent to my kids to encourage them to get with the BH program. Awesome! Glad you are enjoying the albums!

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