Review: Kvlthammer’s Kvlthammer – Release Your Anger

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Do any of you remember the original Mortal Kombat arcade machine? I had to stand on my tiptoes, but I held my own against the bigger kids on that thing. They may have been able to cross the street to the arcade without holding their mommy’s hand, but I could lay down a totally mean split punch to shadow kick combo. When I bested some bitch loser and the words “FINISH HIM” flashed across the screen, I’d press a random sequence of buttons and pray to the arcade gods for a fatality (this was before these codes were so readily available on the internets). The end result was always a quick, anticlimactic jab to the face and my opponent falling stiffly to the floor with a disappointing thud. Yeah I know “Johnny Cage wins” but I wanted to punch somebody’s fucking head off.

Every so often, a veteran kombatant would kick open the arcade doors like a Wild West saloon, whoop the shit out of one of us regular nerds, and perform the fabled fatality. He was an arcade wizard and the joystick was his staff.

It wasn’t just the explicit violence that made it so captivating, although it was a shock at that age to see someone rip off a guy’s head with most of the spine still attached, even if it was all simulated. The execution of a fatality was the result of hidden knowledge possessed by few and observing one was, to a young and unjaded gamer, something almost mythical. Like glimpsing the Loch Ness monster or an article where I quickly get to the point. Over 20 years later, the Mortal Kombat franchise is putting out games with more visually realistic and absurdly violent fatalities than ever, but the magic is gone.

I’ve experienced a similar desensitization to the expression of anger in music. Maybe it’s because – like Mortal Kombat finishers – the internet has sucked much of the mystery out of metal by making it so easy to discover and consequently overexposing me. For whatever reason, it takes a lot nowadays for a band to really convince me that they’re pissed off.

But guys, I’m pretty sure Indianapolis’s Kvlthammer is pissed off.

They play what the kids are calling “Black Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which just so happens to be the name of a killer Midnight song. For the layperson – imagine greasy speed metal, black metal, thrash, and crust punk thrown into a blender with some piss, vinegar, and a whole lot of hard liquor. Kvlthammer is a run-down junker with five gears — fuck you, fuck me, fuck them, fuck this, and fuck that — and I thoroughly believe the sincerity of each.

The “black” in “black rock ‘n’ roll” refers to the first wave of black metal forged in the flame of sleazy speed rather than the trem-and-blast atmospherics of Darkthrone and friends. Here the spirit of the earliest black metal can be heard throughout, but where their aforementioned contemporaries in Midnight apply that raw influence to Motörhead worship, Kvlthammer takes it with them to punk-inspired edge of the thrash metal spectrum. The proof is in the first bite of the gross, curdled pudding. Kvlthammer’s opener “Pathless” almost had me checking to see if I accidentally pressed play on a Toxic Holocaust album before a nasty ugh! transitioned the three-chord thrasher into a flattening, Celtic Frost style powerhouse riff. There are a few speedy parts in here that would make Lemmy and the gang proud (especially in parts of “Hesh Trip” and “Hounds“), but it seems Kvlthammer places the real emphasis on the mid-paced stomp. A good thing too, because that’s where they’re at their most bitter. I don’t know what they’re on about when they’re shouting “sick, sick, sick / slut, slut, slut / six, six, six / slut, slut, slut!” during the chorus of “Terrifying Ecstasy,” but whatever it is, they hate every single one of its guts and now so do I.

The second you think these dudes have reached the anger cap, “Hate Is Not Enough” slows things down to a slog of plodding riffage and absolutely fuming vocals. If this one comes on in the car, you will punch the living shit out of your steering wheel.

Nate Olp and Carl Byers like to bend some strings every so often to give their already killer riffs a darker edge, and they throw in the occasional booze-soaked guitar solo to remind us that, at its core, this is still filthy rock ‘n’ roll, blackened though it may be.

Dustin Boltjes, who you all should know from Skeletonwitch, gets to take a break from his rapid-fire drumming routine and instead focus most of his attention on the generous application of d-beat. And I do mean generous. The result is near-constant headbangability at the minor expense of variety. Those of you who refuse to listen to any band that’s not progressive enough to utilize the sitar or glockenspiel or whatever over endlessly fluctuating time signatures might not enjoy such a straightforward approach.

That being said, Kvlthammer only runs for 27 minutes — in my estimation a smart move for music so direct. Personally, I would have liked to hear more. Kvlthammer’s no-bullshit design is a blast to listen to and it hearkens back to one the thing that got so many of us into metal in the first place — being really pissed off.

1/5 FLUSHES

kvlthammer

Kvlthammer is out now. Get it right here for 5 measly dollars!

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  • It’s like you’ve written about everything I care about in one post.

    • Lacertilian

      I think everyone can relate to the Mortal Kombat arcade machine ‘wild-west’ scenario.
      Except, Johnny Cage….NO!

  • Tommy P

    Comparisons to Midnight? I’m interested

  • W.

    I’m going to put this on and drop-kick my monitor.

    • Randall Thor

      This just makes me want to rip my shirt off and then projectile vomit in people’s faces.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    I’m down to download, nice review.

    • AHHHH NEW DECAPITATED SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!

      GL

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbLSrdNd9oU

      • Owlswald

        I haven’t stopped listening to this track since it came out. That guitar solo is so Meshuggah but so rad.

      • Tyree

        That drumming… Phew.

        • Detective D.

          Totes digs on the drums.

      • Howard Dean

        I hate to be the guy to say this, but meh. Serious meh. Decapitated have been sliding into the groovy-djenty sinkhole for awhile now, so this doesn’t blind side me. But, ugh. Not really a fan of this. I bought Carnival is Forever based upon prior experiences with the band, but was pretty underwhelmed. This is album is sounding even worse so far. At least Organic Hallucinosis–for all its faults–still sounded like a death metal record. I wasn’t expecting a Winds of Creation or Nihility 2.0, but I wasn’t expecting this. That solo almost made me spit out my coffee (and not in a good way).

        • Howard Dean 2016!

        • Dental_Damnation

          This track is at least better than everything off Carnival at first glimpse, but maybe I need a few more listens

        • Stockhausen

          You get back to campaigning! You’re hurting my delicate metal feelings!

          • Howard Dean

            I’m on the trail as we speak, lifelovers! Shilling for that minority vote!

            Next stop is St. Louis, then I’ll come back through Chicago, on my way to Detroit. Cross-promotion with Frank Sharp, head of Sharp Records.

          • Stockhausen

            I want to see Howard Dean in a Decapitated hoodie, and I’ll throw my vote in.

          • He has to dance, too.

          • Howard Dean
          • Guest

            Photoshop is for cunting lifelovers!

          • Howard Dean

            Damnit! I suck at the internet!

          • Howard Dean

            Photoshop is for cunting lifelovers! Byyyyyaaaaaaahhhhhh!

        • Xan

          I agree with you. It’s heavy but it didn’t seem to really go anywhere. If feel as if I’ve heard this song played by fifty other death metal bands. I am a fan of most of Decapitated’s previous work so I hope that the album will be face melting like the others.

      • Stockhausen

        Love this song, but that’s a seriously Impaled Northern Moonforest-like name. Can’t wait for this album.

  • This is actually really cool…never heard these guys before.

    • Mr.CustodialArts

      It’s going to get to the point where we start reading about bands before the bands exist…you know, as if somebody here at the toilet time travelled with a heavy metal almanac or something.

  • Tyree

    Hooray for d-beat! Hooray for Kvlthammer! Hooray for beer!

    Nice review man I enjoy the fuck out of this album.

  • One of JAG’s MK hats. I’m still a huge fan of the franchise (up to MK3/Trilogy anyway.)

    • You have these insured right?

      • Nope. I haven’t worn this one yet but I took all the tags off of it. Waiting for fall to start wearing it so I don’t sweat it up like the one I usually wear now.

    • Can I have one pretty please JAG?

    • Negrodamus

      JAG I have been playing MK for PS3 with my girlfriend a lot lately! Shit is tight. I can’t wait until MKX comes out on PS4.

      • Sheeeit yes. We gon’ play that shit. But I’m terrible at fighting games.

        • Negrodamus

          I’m pretty good at Mortal Kombat on the PS3 but the new one looks different, like you play in different environments and they’re a part of the action.

          • Yeah, it seems like it takes some influence from Injustice, which was the last game they made. I actually really love Injustice even though I’m not very good at it.

        • Fromwisdomtohate29

          As long as you’re not like this guy, you’ll be fine.

          http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yfPXXKT8t7g

      • I tried playing it on XBL and they reversed the fucking block and run buttons. Screwed me all up. (If I get a PS4 I need to add you guys because I spent years building a great friend-list on XBox and it’s gonna suck leaving it behind.)

        • Negrodamus

          As far as I know, there is no run feature on Mortal Kombat for PS3…

          • IIRC “run” was first introduced in MK3. Basically you could run up to your opponent and try to unleash a combo.

    • Mr.CustodialArts

      My first try at the arcade I picked Raiden, of course. I violently jiggled the joystick and mashed the buttons…and by doing so succeeded in teleporting, flying across the screen, and shooting lightning-without having a fucking clue how I did it. It-was-AWESOME!

  • FeelTheDarkness

    Is it cool if I leave this here?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqsPKpZ2qMI

    • Howard Dean

      Turn it up! Bring the crust! Byyyyyaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

  • Rob M

    Just picked this up a couple of days ago…very cool little album

  • Stockhausen

    Awesome review. I’m digging the embedded track.

  • SMOHLG

    Album cover 0/5 flushes cuz boobies

  • Further Down the Metal Hole

    This was a hilarious write up (in a good way).

  • LAMENTATIONS OF THE WOMEN

    what’;s with the sideways pic under the headline?

    • Xan

      It wouldn’t have been properly centered if it were upright.

  • Dental_Damnation

    I can’t believe how much I liked those tracks, this guys vocals are amazing. Reminds me of Master a little bit, which is awesome.

  • Xan

    I’m digging this track. The vocals kind of remind me of Venom’s. The artwork is also pretty cool.

  • RustyShackleford

    Been looking for more blackened stuff like this. Thanks Masterlord. Yep!

  • Xan

    I like ’em black n’ nasty!

  • IronLawnmower

    This kind of blackend speed/thrash metal happens to be my favourite subgenre. This is gosh darned killer I tell you hwhat.

  • CONAN THE MOTHERFUCKING KING

    ………

    • FeelTheDarkness

      I used to watch this movie a majority of the times I would dose.

  • B00mhauer

    Tellyewhat man heard a dang ol’ Hate Is Not Enough put a fist through a dang ol’ wall an’ tellyewhat seethin’ rage. Yo.

  • Mr.CustodialArts

    Where’s the Lair of the Minotaur love, brother?