A horrible hack

Hammerhead

Global Depression

Year Released: 2014
Format: LP
Label: Learning Curve
 
Reviewed by Emile Bojesen on Sep 20, 2014
Hammerhead aren’t the kind of band who blow you away with unexpected avant garde turns. Their quality is in consistency and distinctiveness. They have been writing powerful, bass-heavy, grungey, noise rock songs on and off for over twenty years and yet every new release is exciting because, despite their well-honed and extremely recognisable sound, no song sounds the same. And actually the style and production on all of their records is a little different, allowing different aspects of their personality come to the fore (92’s‘Ethereal Killer’ now sounds the closest to being a Vaz record, while 94’s ‘Into the Vortex’ is probably their most menacing and aggressive full length, 96’s ‘duh, the big city’ being a little more mid paced and first to introduce their more laid back vocals, and 2009’s ‘comeback record,’ ‘Memory Hole’ in many ways picking up where that record left off).

That said, ‘Global Depression’ does stand out a bit more than usual. The first surprise is how clean the production sound is. There is no overarching fuzziness, instead that component is contained in the distortion on the guitars. There is a lot more room in the songs and yet I’m pretty sure there is more going on than ever in the instrumentation. There are also very few sections without vocals, which, again, allows the Hammerhead personality to come through stronger than ever. This also couldn’t be more different than the higher end and generally rougher sounding ‘Visiting Hours’, the latest LP by Vaz, which is a band comprising of two thirds of Hammerhead.

Perhaps the clarity of voice exhibited here is partly down to some of the usual default characteristics being satisfied more appropriately within the remit of the other band. Both bands most recent records could easily be called some of best of their careers and they show no sign of slowing down, which is really quite a feat for a band that made their name in the early 90’s. It is clear that, for them, trying something new has much more to do with exploring the depth of an already existing formula than trying to jack it all in for the latest thing that takes their fancy. I think that is what makes Hammerhead such a dependably excellent band. They know exactly what they are doing but they also always seem to try to want to do it better.


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