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Album Review : Jack J Hutchinson – The Hammer Falls

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Review by Gary spiller for MPM

The hammer falls, the gavel strikes the lectern. Conflagrant sparks brought forth from the very depths of the underworld wildly fly. Waves are sent alee, ripples are noted in the infernal river Styx.

The wily rock n’ roll preacher, cloaked from head to toe, flicks a coin to Charon, no-one has crossed in this direction before. Apollyon awakens, opens an eye; halos about to fall. Fates will be realised; the wild calls obstreperously.

The preacher crosses over the border; the terrain is noticeably asperous; craggier in nature, rocky peaks rise high. With his quick-fire six-string slung over his back he puts a foot forward. On the breeze the raucous caw-caw of the darkened feather carries uninterrupted. Deliverance is firmly upon the agenda; seeking not death but a strength of realisation.

Flames follow the preacher; it’s too late for those gnarled souls who have invited him to join them. Easy prey they foolishly reckon; they silently rub their hands together in misplaced glee. A distant bell tolls as he takes a seat at their table. Under a single, yellow light the cards are dealt; they know not but the preacher holds the ace. Ten of them to be precise; the hammer will fall.

As the clock strikes seven twenty there comes a knock from the darkened recesses beyond the spill of light from the solitary lantern. The reaper has come to call; the first ace is readied for action. ‘Straight to Hell’ opens the album in thunderous fashion; heavy pulsing blues-edged licks begin their work. Rhythms as heavy as the earth’s core itself, Metallica-esque riffs along with an absolute beast of a solo ensure no prisoners are to be taken. Notice of intent has been duly served; a one way ticket guaranteed.

‘The Hammer Falls’ growls into action, the shadows lengthen and the light flickers. The door flies open and a silhouetted figure stands at the threshold. Cards fall to the floor as the players upend the table in their terror. In the doorway the figure utters a single word in a hollow, booming tone. “Play.” The preacher, without ceremony, shoulders his six-string and unleashes the bone-crunching riffs with a fervour. Zeppelin meets ZZ Top.

Rumbling bass notes rise from the beneath; the floorboards quake with the resonance. The basement dwelling rocker that is ‘Down By The River’ delivers a sonorous concussive pummeling as it forcefully flows from its subterranean environs. The poker-players realise their collective transgression of judgement for it is them that are being judged now. Helpless as the preacher continues to dispense from the hallowed deck.

A moment of tranquility follows; disturbed dust settles as the script begins to stall. Eyeing the cowering exponents of illicit seven-stud the gravelly-voiced preacher commands “Get off your knees” before adding “She doesn’t rest.” Coaxing gentle strains and licks, right out of Jimmy Page’s text, from his guitar the preacher heralds the arrival of the “Angel of Death.” Semi-balladic in nature the inherent beauty of this five minutes plus sends pulses of electric sparking into the Cimmerian shades.

Rasping ripples appear in the hazy ether; a shock wave to the mind. Therein lies a sense of urgency as ‘Halo’ is belted out as the sand-blasted riffs erode the rough edges of the tainted souls; the collective errors reduced to insignificant granular form.

There is no turning back; redemption is sought. The preacher surveys the scene; satisfied he looks at the doorway as the reaper steps inside. The waiting is over; chopping riffage and succulent, stately notes sweep forth as the soaring chorus of ‘Call Of The Wild’ reverberates. A wolf howls out in the badlands; the will of the reaper is

Heart worn on his sleeve the preacher, looking a move ahead, thinks about the right to tread the road homewards. Those who wronged hold outstretched hands in silent apology as he sagely notes “The words don’t mean a thing.” A rock n’ roll ‘Gunslinger’ of note he deals in not bullets from the chamber of a smoking revolver but searing notes sculpted from the blistering red-hot strings of a magmatic guitar.

Out in space, beyond the moonlit, skies stars align; with a galloping, pounding rhythm ‘The Ravens Crow’ pulsates. The obfuscous unkindness emanate their hoarse caw-caw; harbingers of death, stealer of souls. The preacher, with a low, rumbling voice, projects their soothsaying atop hard-as-nail riffs which Hetfield and co. would be rightfully proud of.

Ushering the now abject card-tricksters to the door the worldly advice ‘What Doesn’t Kill (Only Makes You Stronger)’ is proffered. Charlatans to the very core their day of reckoning has arrived; the preacher drops his cowl to reveal a kindly, bearded face framed beneath a black bowler hat. His guitar now takes a tangible shape; horns and a pointed ‘V’ with concentric arcs of aquamarine and black adorning its gleaming body. Strings numbering six from which a Malmsteen-esque solo is divinely won. Cities will tumble upon this new dawn as the punchy chorus sends the inviters upon their eternally damned path.

Stepping outside all is ablaze; the reaper watches intently. The damned are bound to tell of their tale; lowly cards hang about their necks. Penance averred in a ‘World On Fire’; the preacher wrily cracks an incendiary smile. One last ace to play and the best to last ; the veritable ace in the hole. Trademark scorching riffs sit comfortably alongside a mellow mid-song passage that wouldn’t be out of place with quoted verse from Coleridge. Potential to become a firm live favourite for sure; the preacher’s work is done for now. The wolf will feed tonight under the watchful dark eye of the raven.

This ten-tracker is the finest brought forth from the creative talents of Jack J. Hutchinson. It’s an album that inspires on so many levels with a absolute feast of six-stringing atop a wrecking-ball of rhythms. This is the album that both the reaper and preacher will cherish; well-balanced shades of dark and light. Heavy yet gentle; there are many facets that Jack displays herein on what is gonna be right up there come end of play 2022.

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