2012 has already seen its fair share of black/thrash albums, demos and EPs, with some being terrific and a lot more ranging from mediocre to decent. So when encountering the new EP from France's Black Hammer, a band that I had not heard of before, there was plenty of room for skepticism about where "Darker Days Will Come" fit in. After giving these four tracks a few spins, it's blatantly obvious that this one-man project is better than a lot of the newer black/thrash acts who have fallen short of bringing anything memorable to the metal underground, though not quite as good as some of the phenomenal acts that have already spread their blasphemies. However, it really doesn't matter how The Iron Messiah's project measures up to other groups, because the music on this EP is good enough to keep the listener focused on Black Hammer and nothing more.
While playing at insane speeds with punishing intensity seems to be the prevalent sound for many bands of this subgenre, Black Hammer's music is dark, plodding and evil, sticking to the aesthetics that were set forth by the masters in Hellhammer/Celtic Frost (though with a lot better production). The guitar tone is excellent to say the least. The already slower and murky riffage has a very doomy overtone (check the title track) to it that reminds one of "To Mega Therion," as a majority of the music crawls along in the darkest fashion. When the pace does pick up, you're more likely to come across some routine tremolo sections than you are violent, thrashy riffs. The closing track of the EP "Walking Through Fire" would definitely have to be the outlier of the four songs, as it does have some thrashier moments, yet it's still the most haunting song here, showing that Black Hammer can also pick up the pace without sacrificing the evil aura. The vocals are actually pretty typical black/thrash rasps that don't have much range, but suit the music fine. The rhythm section is solid, but nothing too exceptional. Overall, "Darker Days Will Come" makes for a fun listen when the mood for something a little slower comes up, and provides a nice alternative to the speed freaks who have taken their stab at this brand of music.
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"Metal of Doom"
"Darker Days Will Come"
"Walking Through Fire"
4.2/5 or 84%.