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Hammerhands: Model Citizen

This ambitious album is much more than the sum of its parts. While not exactly a concept album, all of the tracks nevertheless work together to explore various characters and their actions. In that sense, the album is a bit like the first episode of a new television drama. We can see what everyone is up to, but we don’t quite know how each of their actions will tie together. The point, it seems to me, is that each character gets listeners wondering about how everyone fits into everything. Given the title, you could say that each character is an ironic take on the concept of the “model citizen.” If you look at the album art, especially the skull head atop a pretty nice suit, that also gives you an idea of what’s going on. Appearance and reality are not always the same.

If you don’t really want to deal with the band’s thematic interests, you could just focus on their sound which is best described as a blend of doom, stoner rock, noise, and sludge. Most listeners will quickly take note of the band’s vocals. They are simultaneously melodic and gravelly, an extreme metal version of Tom Waits. Sometimes, the vocals are enhanced with effects that make them even more haunting and strange. The vocals definitely suit the band’s overall style.

Vocalsl aside, I think listeners will also appreciate the band’s talent for developing cool soundscapes out of relatively few tones. There are times when the band’s minimal style gives things a hypnotic quality, one that I found especially engaging. At its best, it makes for some quality listening. The band is more focused, perhaps even more disciplined, on this release. I suspect Hammerhands is still figuring out exactly how they want to sound over the long haul. If this album is any indication, they are heading in a positive direction. I thought the album’s second half was stronger than its first half, mostly because I liked “Too Many Rivers” better “Pleasure Island” and “I’m Not Here.” This is a generally strong album, but you might want to check out a few tracks before settling in for a full listen.

Track Listing:
1. Pleasure Island
2. Maximum Beta
3. Do it Right
4. I’m Not Here
5. Too Many Rivers
6. Dad Sludge
7. That Awful Sound
8. Not in the Cards
9. Bastard Jesus

Added: September 14th 2019
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Bandcamp Page
Hits: 489
Language: english

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