Hammer Hall – The Wake (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The gothic sound, in its formative years at least, tended to fall into two camps. There was the more dance driven, dirge-disco sound, all clinical beats and cold, impassive tones, then there was the theatrical rock and roll side of things. The Wake is certainly a sonic echo of the former camp. And whilst it is easy to suggest that they are merely borrowing from the past, it is worth remembering that The Wake were there back in the day. If not quite front runners of the original scene then certainly as part of the second wave. So, even though this single, and the album to follow, Perfumes and Fripperies, (great name) arrives after a gap of 25 years since their last release, this is the sound of a band going back to their own roots, rather than ploughing someone else’s sonic furrow. Which is not as saucy as it sounds.

And what a welcome return it is. Brooding and bruised, built on relentless bass lines and tribal dance beats, searing and distorted guitars and cavernous vocals. It plays things straight, building momentum rather than meandering, driving a singular path rather than dressing the song up too much with peripheral sounds and additional textures.

And it is this dark driving design, this diabolical energy, this blend of depth-charge sounds and Stygian sonic visions which is the real charm, reminding us that simplicity and directness is often more powerful than intricacy and ornate design. 

If you need a quick way to determine which camp a goth band fall into even before you have heard the music then just look at their clothes. If they appear to have just come from Comic-Con dressed as a minor character from Game of Thrones then expect something which is the musical equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons or worse, Buffy! If they look like they once worked as roadies for The Damned in the late eighties then expect a much classier, direct and to the point style of music. It’s not a fail safe system but The Wake definitely falls into the latter category.

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