Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Nuclearhammer - Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer (Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Famous for their brand of "war metal" Canadian bands like Blasphemy, Ouroboros, Rites of Thy Degringolade, Conqueror, and a slew of others have been pumping out extremely chaotic hellstorms of records for roughly three decades now. Not only that, but more recently bands like Mitochondrion and Antediluvian have been taking that crude, war-like formula and altering it to make it even more warped by adding new layers of hypnotic dissonance to the already dense art-form. Enter Nuclearhammer, who on their new full length Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer tread a fine line between the staggering chaos of their Canadian forefathers and the dense and at times experimental works of their peers, creating an album that is distinctly Canadian but also distinctly Nuclearhammer. 

Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer begins with "Multidimensional Prism of Black Hatred" (possibly the greatest song title of all time) which blasts forward with total intensity, blunt repetitive riffing collides with a screeching guitar solo before distant echoing vocals are grunted over the swarming horror. Along with such staggering brutality Nuclearhammer brings atmosphere that is uncommon within the "war metal" genre, equal parts destructive and ambient the track blisters onwards charging to the furthest points of extremity. Emphasis is placed on repetition, on the longer tracks this repetition is used to a hypnotic effect, putting the listener into a trance-like state. Utilized in a way that is typical within black metal albums, however the coldness and sorrow that accompanies black metal's repetition is replaced by Nuclearhammer's brand of hateful, mesmerizing fury. 

The bewitching hypnotic effect of the music adds to the cosmic theme that runs throughout the album. Lyrics of occult dimensions and apocalyptic mayhem are barked forth by three of the members who all assume vocal duties; Axaazaroth, Doomhammer, and Impugnor all taking variants of the same hellish rasp. The metal tracks on the album all basically follow this formula, echoing vocals over devastatingly barbaric blast beats and hypnotic driving riffs. Some variation is thrown in, "Phosphorous Clouds Descend on Mecca" offers a trudging lead in before the bestial destruction starts again. Shorter tracks like "...Rise No More" and "Parasitic (Temple of Rats)" offer a more grindcore inspired approach, but still contain the repetitive structure of the rest of the album. The monotony is not tiresome, it only adds to the unforgiving atmosphere Nuclearhammer conjures. This album is not meant to be technical, there is no attempt to impress the listener with guitar theatrics, their only goal is to bring as much cataclysmic fury as possible. 

Nuclearhammer also offer something unique between the sprawling blasphemy of the heavier tracks with industrial noise moments. These songs act almost as gateways, leading the listener into the next dimension of Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer. All titled with odd scientific names like "24-Cell (Octoplex)" and "H3po4 (Orthophosphoric Acid)" the noise ranges from industrial sounds to unsettling ambient drones. These pieces are a welcome addition to the album, adding another layer of insanity. They also help Nuclearhammer to stand out amongst the ranks of blasphemous black/death metal bands, distinguishing themselves as purveyors of all things harsh and unforgiving whether it is metal or noise, taking extremity to new limits.

On Serpentine Hermetic Lucifer Nuclearhammer have brought their deranged take on the already barbaric genre to new heights. Offering some of the most aggressive and chaotic music to be released so far this year the album stands as a tribute to the madness that lurks far beyond human reach and comprehension. It is available in CD and LP format from Nuclear War Now! Productions and can be streamed through the label here. Do not sleep on this monument of insanity.

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