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This is the full album stream for Gallhammer's The End, out on Peaceville Records.

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Gallhammer - The End [full album stream]

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A commenter on Blabbermouth hit the Gallhammer question with, well, a hammer:

I wonder if this band would get as much attention if guys were playing in it. It's generic pseudo-doom trying to emulate Hellhammer; not much to drool over I'd say. Hellhammer were great back in the 80s as they were running in parallel to the norm back then. Gallhammer just follows in their steps and fails at generating anything but a novelty interest each time they release something.

These are fair criticisms in a Japanese doom metal context that includes Corrupted, Coffins, and Birushanah. Gallhammer can't compete with them in terms of power and heaviness. Do they get attention just because they're Japanese ladies with great fashion sense?

After several run-throughs of The End, I think the answer is no, at least after this record. They aren't competing with anyone. It's strange, and it's not for everyone, but Gallhammer have their own thing going on.

I wish I knew more about the circumstances behind this record, because the more I hear it, the weirder it seems. Guitarist Mika Penetrator left Gallhammer last year. Large chunks of this record seem to reflect that, as if the band simply carried on recording as a duo.

These guitar-less trudges of bass and drums are the most interesting parts. They carry the grumbling ennui of bass-and-drums intros in old hardcore and noise rock, before the guitars kicked in. Dilate those intros into long dirges, add some saxophone off in the distance - frontwoman Vivian Slaughter joins Sigh's Dr. Mikannibal in the ranks of "Japanese female saxophonists in extreme metal" - top with feral grunts, and you have some truly odd music.

The weirdest part of The End is the tiny-Japanese-girl vocals of drummer Risa. Sometimes they're cute (e.g., the tradeoffs with Slaughter's death growls in the catchy punk romp "Entropy G35"), sometimes they're annoying (well, most everywhere else), and always they stand out. Tiny-girl vocals have historically not been a part of heavy music. Babes in Toyland's Kat Bjelland used them for effect, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon sometimes had that vibe. But in Metal with a capital M, tiny girls have not belonged.

So the result is a lo-fi stew of doom metal, crust punk, black metal, saxophone, feral grunts, and tiny-girl vocals. That actually kind of makes sense, given the tendency of Japanese pop music to hybridize. It's safe to say that no other band sounds like Gallhammer.

— Cosmo Lee
Photos by Asako Yamazaki

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