Like the most popular groups that inspired the band from the eighties and earlier, Hammer of Chaos has a very analog presentation that works well with the hard rock infused mixture of doom and stoner metal. The bass guitar lends a decent pulse that can sometimes be a bit thin compared to the mid-range distortions of the guitar. The rougher vocals are a bit muffled though, as if carrying a forced effect from the studio to play up that rawer trait. The drums, however, sound fantastic overall, right down to being a bit louder in the mix which accentuates the echo they carry. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the way the EP sounds. In fact it easily captures the spirit of the seventies and eighties in a way similar to transferring a record or cassette to a modern, hi-fi medium.
The melodic hooks and enthusiastic drum presence of “A Good Day to Die”, especially approaching the chorus, introduces a nice blend with the group’s doomier foundation. One of the strongest points here is that there’s little time wasted, finding the band getting right in and utilizing every bridge effectively to reach that simpler, yet oddly glorious chorus. However, the near five-minute length does start to become a bit too much by the time you hit the guitar solo. Truthfully, this could have been cut by four minutes in without having to rehash the chorus twice, the last time with additional vigor, before finally wrapping things up. The cover of Slow Burn‘s “Pilot of the Dune” shares a lot of this as well, though features a good thirty seconds of silence before it starts for some reason. Either way, it’s an infectious track that closes the EP on as energetic a conclusion as what it all started with.
From this point forward, Hammer of Chaos manages to tread the line between the likes of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus, both of which are acknowledged as large influences to the band. “Dancing On Your Grave” has a little more complexity to the guitars this time around, though isn’t quite as enthusiastic as the previous track. Instead, it does go for that of a glorious vibe all around, and not just restricted to the chorus, but with a hint of hardcore to the main verses that can remind listeners of early Monster Magnet with how close Mario’s rougher vocal approach comes to Dave Wyndorf at times, a trait that can be felt throughout the rest of the release as well.
But, for the band’s doom sound, the closest you get to a slow churning sensation commonly associated with it today is the title track “Hammer of Chaos”. While not exactly one that trudges along, there is a certain gloomy burden that can be felt within the nearly nine minute performance. However, much like with “A Good Day to Die”, this one does feel as though it goes on longer than it really needs to. Thankfully the band tries to make up for this by hammering out another guitar solo at the end, which does make the extension a little more worth sitting through.
Hammer of Chaos is a pretty good EP that takes a lot from various doom and stoner walks of life with a palatable hard rock or punk rock overtone in each track offered. Firelord continue to grow and mature with each new release, and this new EP is another example of the steps the group has taken since their full-length effort dropped in 2013. Sadly, it does have its issues yet, especially with admitting when enough is enough and leaving on a high note instead of dragging the song along to the point of beating the dead horse for a while. But, if you enjoy bands like Earthride, Gates of Slumber, The Sword, or any others mentioned above, Firelord‘s latest is worth checking out.