2016’s Lovely Sort of Death was a bit of a breakthrough for Bloody Hammers although this was a result of a sound that diverged somewhat from the band’s earlier material. After initially being pegged as doom metallers in the tradition of their southeastern American homeland, the band’s third album and The Horrific Case of Bloody Hammers EP that came out a year later each showed a bigger emphasis on gothic melodrama and mainstream melodies.
It can be argued that the mainstream came to the band, what with the surge from Ghost, and not the other way around but it is undeniable that the doomy duo – Anders Manga on vocals and most other instrument alongside Devallia on keyboards – caught lightning in a bottle with seriously memorable songcraft.
With The Summoning, Bloody Hammers takes a small step back into their past lyrically. The album is essentially a concept piece celebrating all things gory and horrific about classic horror cinema. You get your undead creatures (“Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”), you get ghosts (“From Beyond the Grave”), you get your chase scenes (“Now the Screaming Starts”), and it ends with “Unbreakable,” that may or may not be the protagonists defeating their supernatural enemies.
Devallia’s keyboards occasionally come to the foreground, most notably by taking the edge off the huge riff of “The Summoning” transforming it from a funeral dirge into a macabre gothic dance track and also during “The Beast is Coming Out,” which is moody and morose due to her contribution of clean piano and harpsichord-styled keys and Manga’s slippery bass. It’s enough to think they didn’t come from Transylvania County in the western part of North Carolina but the ancient Romanian region of vampire lore.
Fortunately the band has continued to put the emphasis on huge, anthemic, buzzing guitar riffs. Whether festering and brooding such as on “Welcome to Darkness” or fast and uplifting such as on “Tales that Witness Madness,” Magma knows the power of a simple repetitive riff and the spooky flourishes surrounding those riffs augment rather that detract from the accessibility and power.
Bloody Hammers seem to have perfected the marriage of metallic bombast with ethereal gothic tropes, no mean feat since bands have been trying to do this ever since Black Sabbath invented both genres.