It feels like it was only yesterday that Celtic Frost‘s fantastic comeback record, Monotheist, came to be. But 2006 was not yesterday. That was a long fucking time ago. And so was the fantastic year of 1984. The year CF blessed us with Morbid Tales. Then there were further blessings in the form of To Mega Therion and the mind-fucking Into the Pandemonium.1 But, now, Celtic Frost is no more—especially with the passing of Martin Ain. And though Tom Warrior carried a lot of CF sound with him when he created Triptykon, that old CF sound doesn’t exist anymore. Darkthrone being the closest to capture it in recent years. Yet, that’s done in a very Culto/Fenriz kinda way. Face it, there’s no one that sounds like Celtic Frost, or even Hellhammer before that. No one… Wait, what’s this?! A two-man band from France and Holland that praise the ground Hellhammer once walked on?! With a debut record called Infernal Moon?! And with the band name of… DungeönHammer…?? Wtf??
OK, so the DungeönHammer thing is pretty clever. And, besides, I never judge a book by its cover—ever. So, I suppose I’ll give this little-known band, with its pair of little-known artists, a try. As I fire up the opening title track, I can’t but help recall my experience with Professor Black‘s I Am the Rock. It looked like Motörhead, it felt like Motörhead, and—except for Black’s vocals—it sounded like Motörhead. After the intro of “Infernal Moon” crescendos, pinching itself off into a song, I can’t help but see Hellhammer, feel Hellhammer, and hear Hellhammer. But, unlike Professor Black‘s quasi-Lemmy vox, DungeönHammer‘s vocals are the spitting image of ’80s Warrior. But with a touch more low-end and gruff. As the song transitions from its razor-sharp Hellhammer riffs to the slower, doomier side of old-school CF, I figure, no matter what happens next, this can’t be all bad.
And, it turns out, Infernal Moon is pretty fucking fun, even if it’s a bit predictable. The only difference between one song and other is the order of events. The opener and “Empire De La Mort” come out of their gates, firing maniacally into the air, before the former commits to slower, crushing plods and the latter steamrolls everything in sight. “Solitudinem Mysteriis,” “Stigma Diaboli,” and closer “Ad Infinitum” approach the style from the other end of the spectrum: moving like fifty-ton giants across black, barren earth. Each step is slow and deliberate; crumbling every mountain, destroying every home, and snapping every tree in its path. While “Solitudinem Mysteriis” and “Stigma Diaboli” deviate a bit in pace and riffage along their six-to-seven-minute treks, the closer refuses to move aside for over seven minutes. Which, unfortunately, makes its monotonous approach less interesting than other songs.
That said, it’s not all about size here on the Infernal Moon. The two-ish minute “Sworn in Blood” and “Oracle of Death” have no remorse. These two are the catchiest on the album, tearing across the sky with an intensity exaggerated by their vicious vox. “Oracle of Death,” in particular, is honed to a sharp point. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and the guitars explore some thrashiness. While I love “Oracle of Death,” the song I find most interesting is “Perpetual Funeral Winds.” And the moment those chilling acoustic guitars arrive, you’ll know why. It sounds like the ghost of Jon Nödtveidt. After this frosty intro, the band returns to their CF/Hellhammer roots with groovy, hard-charging riffs that see the song end as it began.
Like I said earlier, albeit a couple songs a touch too long, Infernal Moon is just fun. It ain’t gonna win any awards from yours truly, but I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with it. And, if these two lads are actually new to the scene, this is an impressive way to break out. DungeönHammer may not play the most original style but what they do play, they play it well. Infernal Moon is a loving tribute to a couple of bands whose sound I miss, yet DungeönHammer do it with a touch of originality that keeps it from being a full-blown copycat. Infernal Moon was a surprising grab for ole Grier and it’ll be interesting to see where DungeönHammer goes from here.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Pulverised Records (Bandcamp) and Me Saco Un Ojo Records
Websites: dungeonhammer.bandcamp.com2 | facebook.com/dungeonhammer
Releases Worldwide: October 12th, 2018