1. I remembered quite well Glaciers, their previous album, especially for the heaviness, the good ol’ heaviness, which I always like when is deeply rooted in some band’s intention. So, I was very glad when I heard from canadian quartet Hammerhands about a new album, Largo Forte.
2. The title, btw, is quite curious, combining two musical notations, one of tempo (the slowest), the other of expression. It seems like a plan, a declaration. Though HH play always forte, they don’t play always largo (they play from adagio to andante con moto).
3. The cover, btw, is also very nice.
4. You’ve just begun to taste the album when you are presented with the hugest track of the record, a wild beast, aptly named Thunderchunk. Here you have everything you need in terms of power, devastation, and riffs. Excellent.
5. Then comes a ‘song’, High Plains, a heavy march, but definitely a ‘song’, quite enjoyable too. And all of a sudden you don’t know any longer what to expect, which is always a good thing.
6. You’re going to have two other ‘songs’, and another huge block of heaviness, screams and riffs. A bit of sonic chaos is still there, for instance in Mezzo Grave, and at the end of Darkerness (and the memory goes to the half a hour long Equus track on Glaciers).
7. When guitars and vocals go their way, trying less usual paths for a heavy metal album, you can always count on the beloved couple of drums & bass for exceptionally strong foundations.
8. Constant changing is the key to Largo Forte, constant transmutation of the heavy in as many forms as you can put in a record, until the last of the three ‘songs’, aptly titled The Hardest Thing, which ends the album with a kind of a night-club heavy farewell sung by a Tom Waits gone sludge.
9. I didn’t get from Largo Forte exactly what I was expecting, but I’m grateful to HH for this, and for what I got, which is new, powerful, and quite promising for what might come.