|Illustration by Luciana Nedelea|
First of all, look at that cover! The figure! The woods! The intricate detail! That’s the kind of cover people buy music for, even if it is digital. Digging into the actual music of Foehammer’s self-titled one finds that it’s a tad deceiving. On one hand the general mood of the doom trio’s epic length tomes fits like a well-worn glove, whereas all that detail is completely mashed by disgusting tone and a funereal pace that obviously lacks any desire to rack up the note count.
But Foehammer is just as deep and rich as the cover illustrates. Just as the figure appears ancient and at peace with solitude, Foehammer is best enjoyed as a personal experience, unencumbered by the trappings of modern existence. Just darkness and gargantuan doom.
With just three tracks stretched over 34 minutes it’s no surprise these songs unfold slowly and deadly. The plodding pace feels like pure exhaustion dragged onwards by determination and revenge, every note dropping with the crushing might of an indeed foe-destroying hammer. Also as expected, the guitars are tuned down to drop-9th Circle of Hell where string tension seems like a ridiculous notion. Bowel-melting to say the least, Foehammer bring the heavy.
It’s pure crush, menacing without being depressing. Full of hate, not hurt. As slow as it is, it’s not necessarily droney, or slow just for the sake of it. They just let the notes come as they will. But that’s not to say they don’t let some of that amplitude resin-ate. Their hypnotic cadences may be ruinously repetitive and dangerously slow but their doom mastery ensnares the mind like a drug that refuses to let go.
There are some surprises along the way. The vocals, straight from the pit, lend a sub-humanity for the listener to connect to as they disconnect from the world. A tether to reality. Subtle, noodling guitar work pokes in randomly to keep things interesting. Moments of groove grab hold fleetingly and float away before you know it. A bluesy solo crops up in “Final Grail”. And the intuitive drum work throws in well-timed strikes and fills, giving the more physical listener something to air drum to.
The bottom line is this: Foehammer are righteously heavy, mercilessly slow and evil sounding to the core. Funeral doom can add another name to the list of bands that “get it”. There’s nuance and subtlety to raise the album from pure doom devastation into an entrancing and powerful experience. “Herbal assistance” isn't necessary but highly recommended. If you’re into that. If not, Foehammer itself should be enough to make you drop out of life.
Note: Grimoire Records handles the digital/CD/cassette versions of Foehammer. For vinyl go to Australopithecus Records