(Our friend Grant Skelton returns to NCS with this vivid review of the debut full-length by Virginia’s Foehammer, released on April 6 by Australopithecus Records. It is the second review of the album we’ve published.)
Foehammer’s self-titled EP, which was released in the spring of 2015, was one of the first ventures I made on my descent into doom metal. Up to that point I’d dabbled, almost exclusively, in extreme bands experimenting with increasing the speed at which they played. After nearly 20 years of such apoplectic throttling, something in my psyche (soul?) began to yearn for auditory victuals from the other end of the speed spectrum.
And I dove head-first into the boggy, bottom-heavy bombardment of “Stormcrow.” This track thumped my brain like a warclub. I couldn’t listen to it enough. So naturally I chomped at the bit to review the EP. It teased proficiency; giving us only a flash of what Foehammer could really do.
I’m glad to say that, three years later, Foehammer’s dormancy has ended! A full-length offering has arrived. It is a cavernous, blunt-skulled, Neanderthal brute entitled Second Sight.
Whereas the self-titled EP gave you pork rinds for your post-herbal indulging, Second Sight gives you a slaughtered hog served over a spit. Everything that originally whet your appetite is still present: a bass tone thick enough to cut like a chainsaw, riffs heavy enough to mold metallic weapons, and rumbling, primitive drumming to march you all the way to Gondor and raze that white city into cinder.
Whereas the production on the S/T was murky (not a gripe by any means, it made the bass more audible), Second Sight is clearer and sharper. Vocalist Jay Cardinell’s hostile howling is more prominent, standing out from the music.
Another attribute highlighted by the production is the songwriting. The tracks on Second Sight don’t tarry or meander. They have a tangible will and intent, a visceral urgency and an anger that didn’t seem to permeate the EP nearly as much. I am also incredibly thankful for guitarist Joe Cox, who gives us many more of the lucid, psychedelic guitar solos this time around! Who doesn’t like more solos?
Remember the giant metal wolf’s-head battering ram from The Return Of The King (both the book and the film)? Well, to those whose Tolkien IQ is a little meager (ahem, me) that thing has a name. Turns out that the Wolf’s Head is called “Grond,” a name it shares with the hammer carried by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. “Grond” also translates to “Hammer Of The Underworld.” Second Sight is Grond’s personal soundtrack.
What you have here is not just another Sabbath tribute band, and not another case of weed worship (though I’m sure that Foehammer, like Gandalf, are not strangers to the halfling’s leaf). Second Sight proves that Foehammer want to be taken seriously as credible and legitimate contributors to the development of the doom scene in the US.