Fisthammer - Infallible [Self Release - 2014]Death metal is home to some pretty silly names (I still can't get over Deathchain), and Fisthammer is no exception. However, this Philly trio distances themselves from their goofy name on their second release, Infallible. Although pretty new to the scene (release-wise, anyway), Fisthammer has made some pretty solid waves. One listen to their newest release and you'll understand why.
Infallible is a wide open release in that it doesn't stick to one style of death exclusively. It's tight and technical, but also grooves and gets melodic. These cats have the chops and this album showcases them well. Infallible is really well recorded and it allows each instrument to be heard and enjoyed, which can't always be said about extreme metal. Thankfully we've moved past the need for low-fi and "cult" (I'm looking at you, Norway) and can enjoy music for music's sake. My first impression of Fisthammer is that they're a less intense Suffocation. However, that's selling these guys short, which I don't want to do. Tracks like "Doom of the Gods Part 2" show them switching from tech to melodic to stomping mosh bits while not sounding like a heavy metal jukebox that just got its ass kicked by Fonzie. Full on blasters like "Evoking the Wrath of the Revenants" serve as great reminders of why we dig this genre and how skilled its musicians are. "Automation of Flesh" has a nice tech groove that switches to blast at the drop of a hat and lays an awesome, slow-dancing bass breakdown on us. The beauty of "Evoking" and "Automation," though, is in the quick guitar rips (bridges? Who lets me review music...I know nothing about it). They're super fast and video gamey...so video gamey in fact, that I think the sound designer from Pitfall could make some change off of this release! While all the tracks on this record are solid, the standout is the ultimate track, "Conjuration of the Fire God." The vicious drums and blazing arpeggios quickly bring one into the lava filled cavern deep within the mountain where the god is to be summoned. Harsh vocals bark just a touch behind the instruments. The breakdown and chant midway through adds atmosphere before breaking back out into speed. The riffs post chant are really slick and interesting. When it comes time to break it down, look out for the bass. It is so gorgeously audible it makes you wonder why most metal bands love hiding it in murk. This six minute finale is worth the price of admission alone. Had I not reviewed Gorguts - Colored Sands, this would easily be the best metal song I've had to review in a year.
Fisthammer may sound like a goofy bunch of metallers, but they definitely don't play that way. Fast, tight, groovy, and well recorded, Infallible is one hell of a metal record. If you're into fast, techy death, but want some fun grooves and melodic licks, too, look no further. Infallible is enough to convince me that Fisthammer is a band I should actively follow.Paul Casey