Sleep Forever, unfortunately, is all too fitting a title for Hammer Bros' newest release.
For the past seven years, this Massachusetts five-piece has been unleashing wave after wave of power and fury--power and fury unmatched by any band in the hardcore scene. Unmatched by any current band period. That reign of terror is coming to an end, however, with Hammer Bros' last show ever slated for August 28.
True to form, the band is going out on a high note, because Sleep Forever is as loud, fast and angry as the band has ever been. Those tenets have been a staple of punk and hardcore for as long as either genre has existed, but it's always been a step above with Hammer Bros. It's always been a tangible energy and unrelenting fire.
It's always been pure vitriol.
That vitriol is found in the punchy, old-school rhythms of "New Found Ends," the metal riffs of "Brackish" and fervent drumming of "All I Have Is Lowell." Literally every second of this EP is packed with aggression and singer Jim Domenici is always at the helm. "All I Have Is Lowell" explodes with frantic drum fills and unpredictable chord progressions, while Domenici's vocals ravage over it all. With so much going on, it's easy to get caught up in just the drumming, the thick basslines or the calamitous riffing, but it's the entirety of it that makes Hammer Bros such a force. The band is more than the sum of its parts.
"Feed Them" offers a slower pace, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in unrelenting power. The heaviest of the five songs, it rides a mid-tempo rhythm and Domenici's scathing delivery is even more prominent. As he delivers the politically charged lyrics towards the end, the rhythm picks up before the bottom drops out and only distorted riffs remain. That the band is so effortlessly able to change rhythm and direction is a testament to their cohesion, a cohesion that stands out most on the EP's title track, "Sleep Forever." The longest song on the EP, this two-and-a-half-minute exercise in furor goes back and forth among rhythmic chugging, towering riffs and speedy drum fills, all the while Domenici tackling feelings of stagnation, unrest and uncertainty. In screaming "Every man bears a cross not shown, every woman has the will to let go / It's the lies sleeping tight in our beds, it's the comfort that shot us dead," he's giving voice to so many people who have felt the same.
And that's always been a mark of Hammer Bros. The complexities of the band aren't in the lyrics, but the layers of ire that permeate every riff and every pounding of the bass drum. The lyrics are simple concepts worded in ways that most can relate to. Worded in ways that will give many comfort.
That's all for Hammer Bros, and as unheralded as they may have been, their mark on hardcore was unmistakable. Domenici ends his section in the liner notes--where each band member has written a mock suicide note signed with the date of the band's last show--in the same poignant fashion that his lyrics have made fans of the band come to expect:
"I just want you to know I was here."
We know, Jim. And we will never forget.