One of the best new discoveries I made this year is undoubtedly Damnation’s Hammer. The band supported Sacred Reich in Glasgow in July this year, and entranced the Cathouse with their crushing doom-laden extreme metal. Their latest album Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres is a heavy feast for the ears that’s certain to get your head banging.
Damnation’s Hammer exhibit a unique sound on Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres. Opener “Temple of the Descending Gods” is a catchy mid-paced banger which is ultimately hypnotic with recurring reverb and delay-laden eerie guitar squeals. “Deathcraft” is a more in-your-face number with its opening death metal blasting and chugging mid-section. The title track showcases various flashes of different sounds. From the tapped guitar intro to the haunting clean guitars to the thrashing choruses, everything stands out from yet complements the chugging doom backbone. “Hammers of War” and “Wolves of Aquarius” both showcase melodic ideas peppered throughout the crushing guitar chug with the latter also bringing the return of the haunting delay-washed sounds and bursts of thrash.
The second half of Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres continues the trend of the backbone of heavy chugging riffs with added flavours spicing up each of the songs. “Haunting the Abyss” is another more straightforward number with simple mid-paced thrash riffing, and “Gates of the Necronomicon” and “The Eternal Harvest” bring more delay-drenched eeriness and doom-laden chugging with thrash moments. The final cut of the album, “Entrance to the Final Chamber” (preceded by “The Hex III”) is an epic number that goes through various moods. It is chock full of riffs including the eerie ambient sounds, haunting guitar arpeggios, death metal blasts and Damnation’s Hammer’s signature sludgy chugging doom. The different ideas work morbidly well together to create an awesome headbanging finale.
The band’s sound on Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres is quite unique. There are various potential influences on display with riffs reminiscent of bands like Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel and Entombed. The guitars have an almost biting harsh quality to them above the heavy crunch that really stands out, yet complements the sound as a whole. The drums have a clarity that emphasises every beat and frontman Tim Preston’s roar soars above the music. In terms of the mix, I feel that the vocals sound rather dry and sit a little too high in the mix resulting in sounding a little separate from the rest of it
Overall Damnation’s Hammer’s Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres is a solid release with a unique sound that’s crushingly heavy and bound to encourage you into a fit of headbanging. With more quality records like this (and their intense live performances), the band are certain to make their way to the upper echelons of the UK underground.
Highlights: “Temple of the Descending Gods”, “Deathcraft”, “Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres”, “Gates of the Necronomicon” and “Entrance to the Final Chamber”
Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres is available now on CD, digital download and streaming via the official Damnation’s Hammer Bandcamp.