GALLHAMMER‘s last record, Ill Innocence, undoubtedly was an interesting and stimulating record of primitive black metal, crust punk, and Japanese indie rock. This former trio, now duo, brings us the equally interesting, The End.
With the departure of guitarist Mika Penetrator, the band have opted to continue without guitars. The result is the tortured screams of Vivian Slaughter, the almost-childlike shouts of Risa Reaper, loud distorted bass, and drums.
What is apparent from the opening, title track is that there is a greater doom influence. “The End” is slow, dark, nihilistic, and rather stripped down. GALLHAMMER picks up the pace through tracks two to five before they hit the breaks and return to pure funeral doom/drone territory with the record’s final two songs.
While the band do a good job playing stripped down, ugly black metal meets crust punk songs, they stand out the most when they incorporate their Japanese indie/punk rock influences. “Aberration,” “Sober,” and “Entropy” are perfect examples with Risa Reaper‘s child-like shouts complimenting Vivian Slaughter‘s vocals amongst the black backdrop. Unfortunately, this is the extent of this dimension to the band’s sound that they established on Ill Innocence.
At the end of the day, you want to like this record more but there is simply not enough substance to warrant such affection. The bare bones nature of The End along with the fleeting lasting impressions leave the listener feeling unsatiated and perhaps disappointed. Maybe in their own artistically twisted way, this is exactly the impression GALLHAMMER intended to leave. (Peaceville Records)
All-girl groups in metal are rare and are typically limited to mall-friendly crap like KITTIE or DRAIN STH. One all-girl group, however, has arisen from an unsuspecting place with an unsuspecting sound. Tokyoâ€™s GALLHAMMER combine the raw sounds of HELLHAMMER proto black metal, AMEBIX crust punk, and subtle new wave/alternative influences. Most importantly, the band have taken these influences and created a unique expression of darkness that is both exciting and fresh. APESHIT got in touch with vocalist/bassist Vivian Slaughter to find out more about this young band and the ominous meaning behind their use of the color white.
GALLHAMMER is a most unique musical entity consisting of a trio of Japanese girls with only death and hopelessness on their mind. Dressed like crusty, black metal vixens, these unsuspecting ladies serve up an unfiltered blend of only the most primitive, HELLHAMMER-inspired nastiness on their second album, Ill Innocence. GALLHAMMER summons the nihilistic, punkified, black metal grimness of Norwegian black metallers, DARKTHRONE (who themselves can be traced back to HELLHAMMER), on tracks “Killed by the Queen” and the awesome “Speed of Blood.” They capture the authentic cold and stale black metal sound with blast beats, grinding riffs, suicidal screams, and raw production. Elsewhere, they perfect the doom and gloom of Swiss purveyors, HELLHAMMER (obviously their main musical influence). Song ideas are very, very simple, but Tokyo’s GALLHAMMER steer clear of sounding like high-school beginners. Quite interestingly, in fact, is that their songs draw influences from various “indie” or post-punk musical nebulas. “Delirium Daydream” could resemble the early, unpolished works of anyone from JOY DIVISION to PJ Harvey. Of course that may be hard to envision given the band’s (black) metal roots. More appropriately relative would be Justin K. Broadrick (JESU/GODFLESH), in which the dreamy epic, “Slog,” is very reminiscent of (save for the blasting interlude). Though GALLHAMMER are clearly very singular in their musical approach, they succeed by assembling basic ideas effectively and unexpectedly. If you tire of dense, over-the-top ridiculousness, invert your diet with a sampling of Ill Innocence. (Peaceville)