Gallhammer - The End
Peaceville Records
7 songs (45:51)
Release year: 2011
Official Myspace, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Charles
It’s the third and, by implication, last Gallhammer release is, if not their best, probably their most distinctively-realised work to date (I do realise I've given it a lower score than Gloomy Lights- chalk that up to over-enthusiasm in the latter case). Yes, yes, they get extra attention because they are Japanese women (which begs the question- why aren’t Flagitious Idiosyncracy in the Dilapidation more famous?), but then there are hundreds of Western male bands that get extra attention because they dress like trolls, or sing about vikings, or pretend to be pirates, or are Nazis, or claim to be mentally ill, or call everyone and everything ‘gay’, or… you get the idea. At least Gallhammer’s ‘novelty’ is something they were born as, rather than a publicity-grabbing wheeze.

There are also, of course, perfectly legitimate criticisms of the band. The main one is perhaps that their music is repetitive. And yeah, it is. Most of the tracks here are based on some kind of hypnotic ambiance, to the extent that the common comparisons to Hellhammer and Celtic Frost (the band’s biggest stated influences) seem a bit out of place. Often The End feels more like weird, crustily droning black metal occasionally hinting at oddball shit like Ildjarn (for example, the abrasively repetitive bounce of Rubbish CG202). This esoteric impression is only made more surreal by the perplexing song titles, which sound like the names of discarded Star Wars droids (like Entropy G35, or 108=7, T-NA). Musically, the band’s stock-in-trade remain these slow-moving, scuzzy basslines which just loop round and round, slicked over by layers of oily, crusty ephemera (with the filthy bass feedback doing extra work in the absence of ex-guitarist Mika Penetrator) and Vivian Slaughter’s bestial vocals. Songs like Wander or the title track just sprawl out flatulently like dirty clouds of noxious vapour balanced by odd, shambling bursts of punkish energy.

The latter, in fact, bring us to the other thing about Gallhammer that draws people’s ire: the moments where Slaughter’s vocals are backed up by Risa Reaper’s utterly ridiculous Chun-Li yelps. These are completely un-metal and totally inappropriate to the band’s sound. But whereas on the last album, Gloomy Lights, they were left as a curious twist to one song, here they play a more prominent role. The punkish songs which litter the album (particularly Aberration) tend to make Reaper’s squawking a centrepiece of their low-fi crust and roll, like a grimly tongue-in-cheek echo of novelty boogie acts like fellow Japanese femalres (and Tarantino favourites) The 5678s, or even a less (or more?) comical Melt Banana.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the squeaking saxophone on the closing track. The End is a strange, strange record: the reason for my opening remark lies simply in the fact that it seems to be where they have truly left the planet earth and started orbiting the moon, rather than because of any real musical advances per se. It will probably win the band absolutely no new fans whatsoever, but to me, at least, it has an oddball appeal.

Killing Songs :
Wander, 108=7, T-NA
Charles quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Gallhammer that we have reviewed:
Gallhammer - Ill Innocence reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
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