This here written piece in front of you is about Doc Hammer, a five-piece southern rock outfit hailing out of Whale’s Vagina, California (more commonly known as San Diego for all you simpletons) whom birthed the weighty audio tome known only as Neon Devil, which will be available for all of your erotic pleasures come “Early September.” You’ve probably noticed that this is in the future, meaning that being a music pundit has yet again blessed me with the task of pre-emptively lubing your brains with my feelings on said record.
Southern Rock is a lazy way of describing these cats for the sole reason that the amalgamation of different influences here spans across a hilarious variety of generations that have laid claim to the genre. A game of cum cracker including Every Time I Die, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Lynyrd Skynyrd essentially gave said cracker sentience where it then raised itself by the ways of the California hardcore kid. There, that’s how you describe Doc Hammer. Sleazy, slick, twisted, and damn near nauseating chased with insatiable groove, angst, a solid sense enough sense of musicianship to keep any metalhead or hardcore kid captivated for days.
With a name like Neon Devil it can easily be safe to assume this demon comes in a great many colours. It’s with an insane rarity that I get to reflect on an underground recorded effort and say with a smile on my face that the actual engineering quality here is actually just about top fuckin’ notch. Just the right warmth and fuzz on the string section, groove for days coming out of the drums (though I most definitely would have chosen a bit more sharpness out of the kickdrum is post-prod), and enough grease and grit from the vocal section to leave a nasty stain on the palate.
This leaves the only points lost in the realm of composition. Don’t get me wrong, every inch of this record has my thirsty ass as erect as can be. Realistically speaking there’s two things that I couldn’t help but shake. First full track (a beastly bit dubbed “Vamparty Diaries”) comes in smelling a whole lot like ETID’s “Decayin’ with the Boys.” From there things can either stay with the modern south vibe, or it can take a wild turn for old school feeling like “Freebird” on bathsalts (See “Winter Girlfriend” for example). This last bit might be incentive to some, but for me felt like a dip out of the groove that I dug so hard in the earlier tunes of the effort in lieu of either pandering to a more rock-oriented crowd or an attempt to fill track space.
Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention a HARD peeve of mine found in closing track “Spit the Claw” where mid-track a minute and a half goes by with utter silence, followed by a completely different tune for the remaining three minutes of said SAME FUCKING TRACK. Similarly used in Norma Jean’s “Sun Dies, Blood Moon,” and a variety of other southern hardcore ensembles, this type of drag-out effect absolutely annoys the piss out of me. I get it, you wanna create this ambience of “are we done?” followed by “SURPRISE NO WE’RE NOT,” but as somebody who likes, nay, fuckin’ needs to listen to something ad nauseam to get my kicks, this just gives me an unnecessary sense of musical edging that forces me to skip a perfectly good closer just so the whole ordeal starts all over again.
Ultimately, Neon Devil is a vibrant product and spectacular display of the kind of fucking grimy disregard for human wellbeing that keeps me utterly captivated by the genre it calls home, played by a group of people that truly pray to the party gods while making no sacrifices to top-notch musical output. Success will undoubtedly come knocking for these sunkissed homies, and all I can hope is that they stick to this righteous path of fuckery they’ve absolutely pissed their signatures into the sand on.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*edited by Danielle Kenedy