Let's Get Fucking Hammered!

NYE Fun with Hammer Fight & Alehammer

posted on 12/2013   By: Matt Longo

If you’ve been checking out the Last Rites staff lists for 2013, it’s likely you’ll detect a note of pretense. There was lots of heady shit that dropped this past year, and yeah, we dug some of it. But the end of the year means party time for most of us, and a couple of special releases recently came out which really fit the bill. So because patterns and felicitous articles are fun, here are two alcohol-fueled albums for your consumption—just in time for New Year’s Eve.

In the Metal Archives, Hammer Fight has the following themes (in order): Sex, Drugs, Booze, Rock n Roll. And that’s pretty dang accurate — especially since, in spirit, they still feel as though they channel Motörhead above all else. Elements of High on Fire occasionally creep in as well, particularly with vocal timbre, but Hammer Fight rarely approaches thrashy tempos. Does it matter? Hell no. They have adapted to more comfortably encompass a broader range of styles. It totally works when they do shift into high gear like on “Foot Chase," and likewise when working a dirty booty groove in “Ginger Rails” (also the closest this band will probably ever come to a love song).

Honestly, much about the overall execution suggests a hardcore influence …that’s gotta be the Jersey coming out (gang vocals!). Things have matured since their debut demo started circulating a year or two ago, and have solidified a new lineup, with bassist/vocalist Drew Murphy the sole consistent member. Some of their older songs are updated and streamlined — with “Disas-Tour” and “Down the Line” each getting about 20 seconds shaved off — while “Get Wrecked” just slightly lengthens. Hammer Fight even demonstrates delicacy and restraint with the intro to “Sleeping with the Enemy”, though they promptly switch to a most aggressive charge about 40 seconds deep (and listen for that crazy-toned bass solo halfway through).

“Queer Eye for the Scene Guy” is a kinda funny slam on deathcore (also interesting since new guitarist Todd Stern used to be in Abacinate), but both that and tracks like the Slayer-salutiing “Hella Weights” feel unfinished, even though their hearts are in the right place. “Stellar Mass” can be lumped in here too; it may be the longest Hammer Fight song to date at 4:44, but a stoner instrumental seems oddly misplaced, even if it temporarily picks up speed during its third minute.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence with the album title Chug of War, but the liquored-up ditties were mostly my faves, with tunes like it’s-all-in-the-title “I Didn’t Feel Like Drinking (Until I Started Drinking)” and raucous closer “Bar Room Bully” already planned for New Year's Eve playlists.

Alehammer is a somewhat different beast than Hammer Fight. This is a rawer, cruder, and crustier — with a more definite nod to bands like Bolt Thrower, only boozier. Not every track burrows in as deep as it ought, but the Asphyx-ish d-beat of “ABV 666” is most likely to inspire the drunken throwing of horns and spilling of adult beverages in these last 48 hours of 2013.

However, similar to Hammer Fight, there is a filthy, bottom-heavy riff-fest which feels like the odd man out; although “Floormonger” works better on Barmageddon, as they blast out six minutes of nastiness culled from worship at the Church of Misery altar.

Alehammer’s genre came through as “tanked” in the ID3 tags …so that’s a new one. And I haven’t seen musicians this awesomely superimposed into an old-timey barroom scene since Cowboys from Hell. So which of these two bands salutes the sauce more convincingly? I think Alehammer takes the keg on that front, and they seem like they’d be one of the best damned bar bands in Chicago. Their names are also much sillier: Shrub McShrubbery, Shrew Shrewster, Scoot von Stickleback, and Karl the Iron Patten have gotta be the goofiest collection of monikers apart from any band who dons makeup. That being said, even though Hammer Fight is the younger group (with normal names), they’ve also made greater progress across fewer releases; Chug of War has a more complex palette, and goes down with a smoother, better balanced finish. Neither are pretty nor graceful — and that’s the idea — but if you were assembling a tour package or festival, Hammer Fight would likely jump to mind.


TAGGED Death,Crust,Horror Pain Gore Death Productions,Agipunk