Thursday, November 5, 2009
Gallhammer - Ill Innocence
An older review...
I am at such a loss for words after listening to this CD. No need to overstate the obvious but moments such as the ones this album captures are worth writing about. You can say that the blackened, encrusted beast that is Ill Innocence has been done before and you wouldn't be completely wrong. But this album harvests something that I have failed to hear in many albums of similar style - passion for depression. Depression has never been this fun... ever.
The music of Gallhammer could accurately be called an ode to Hellhammer and Darkthrone. It is reminiscent of Burzum at times and sweeps into Earth styled drone-scapes while maintaining a filthy tone and atmosphere in an entirely feminine way. "Delirium Daydream" could never be done by another band as well as Gallhammer. Each track is sarcastically emotional in that girlish manner that is so misunderstood. While Angela Gossow continually tries (and fails) to be a "strong" woman, these three girls don't try to be anything other than natural and come off sounding stoic. In return, Gallhammer come off sounding as if they were meant to write these songs instead of being perceivably gimmick driven such as the last two or three Arch Enemy albums - odd analogy I know. The point is there is no joke here - everything about this band is gimmick free.
The fact that the musicianship is perfectly primitive yet competently played works well. Vivian Slaughter's simple plodding bass and earthy tone are perfectly suited to the droning nature of many of the tracks. Risa Reaper's drums have this "gravestone quality" to them - protruding from the ground / earth / base of the music to be examined as they ring out. Mika Penetrator's guitar tone is wholesome and full. It fits perfectly with the other instruments and retains heaviness without contradicting the feminine nature of the music. The vocals are one of the most intriguing aspects of Gallhammer's sound. With each member adding vocals to the mix, the messages seem to be completely universal for the three. Vivian does most of the vocals however she never once pulls an "I'm the leader" or implies anything of the sort. No one has a leader personality. The "whole" exists as a leader.
Why has "Blind My Eyes'" intro riff never been written before? Best riff on the album. Not because its the only riff either. It wipes the metal table clean of crumby riffs that so many bands are using these days. The album contains a lot of sludgy, droning, black metal but "Song of Fall" wins the blackened drone award. The vocals at 5:44 are spectacular. "Speed of Blood" is the punk - fueled song with moments of intensity. "SLOG" contains the albums main compositional blunder - breaking into an untimely section at 6:53. One thing that Ill Innocence doesn't capture enough is the use of feedback in the band's live shows. Dawn of... captures this important aspect of the Gallhammer sound. The lack of "May Our Father Die" is also somewhat disappointing. A Re-recorded version of this blackened song is displeasing.
Overall, there is a great sense of promise that the band shows. Let hope that Peaceville will bring these three to the US.