Album Review – Ringworm Hammer of the Witch Cleveland, Ohio is a hardcore town. Its river famously went up in flames, temps average ten below during winter and beer is the beverage of choice most mornings. Simply said, to live in Cleveland you have to be tough. Ringworm is the soundtrack to the city, gritty as the streets; full of the rusty plight of the steel mills. Hammer of the Witch (Relapse Records) brutalizes a message of extreme measure, driving home the ethos of their hometown, a better dead than dieing philosophy.
“Dawn of Decay” starts with a stomping barrage of riff, sounding like an army of pouncing Doc Martins; leading to the pained screams of James Bulloch. Bulloch is known by most as the “human furnace” which seems like a handy super power in the winter wasteland of the mid west, but it’s not propane exuding from him rather pure hell fire and brimstone. Better get a tetanus shot for your ears, his voice cuts like rusty barbed wire on the devastating “Bleed”. Savage and raw, it is the perfect compliment to the razor sharp guitar work of Matt Sorg and John Comprix. Their contribution on Hammer sounds down right nostalgic for fans of mid-west hardcore, like Integrity but more brutish and evil as shit…yes, it’s possible and it’s awesome.
“Psychic Vampire” is just gnarly; beyond pissed off metalcore at it’s most heated. Relapse would be smart to hire a priest to follow the band on tour, reading last rites to any kid dumb enough to get into the pit during “vampire”. The crushing double bass drum assault by Danny Zink, punishment enough, will cause someone to dive off a stage this summer. Please, for the love of all that is unholy, send our regards to his mother.