Hammer of the Witch
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Time has not softened these Cleveland metal-core pioneers. Dispensing with the pleasantries, Ringworm cuts to the heart of the scathing matter with the rawness and intensity that has been their hallmark since the days of the elder Bush presidency. Hammer is strong without being overbearing, focused without boxing itself in, lean without sacrificing force. Nothing less could be expected from a band inspired by Clive Barker (“I Recommend Amputation” comes directly from Barker’s Hellraiser II and is the anthem based around that film we’ve long waited for). Sealing the deal is HOTW’s cover art, a lifelike and evocative drawing of a topless goat-woman crying what must be blood, rendered by none other than vocalist James Bulloch, aka the Human Furnace. Based on Ringworm’s Richter-scale sonics, our goat-woman’s not weeping out of sadness or contempt.