For Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett, the tragic death of Michael Dahlquist in 2005 signified the end of Silkworm -- not just as we know it, but period. And, unlike the promise of the last Silkworm release in 2004, it hasn't exactly Been Cool for Cohen and Midgett. So, the heroes of our story jacked the rhythm section of .22 and Seam, Tim Midgett picked up a six-string, and all four entered the studio to self-produce Hammer of The Gods under the guise of Bottomless Pit. Fortunately, anyone expecting a Led Zeppelin tribute set or another pointless guitar rock interpretation of 8-Bit NES theme songs will be pretty bummed out.
In fact, Hammer of The Gods is everything you would expect from a group of guys who never had to rely on surprise to make consistently great records. Throughout the album's eight tracks, both Cohen and Midgett deal with tragedy and loss, but it's the confident songwriting of Midgett in particular that takes the stage for the bulk of this LP. With aggression and punching-the-wall tendencies clearly in check, Midgett plays the conversational voice over your shoulder of someone who's been to the depths and back, while also providing assurance that we'll all be fine.
Musically, the earnest rock of Hammer of The Gods sits nicely beside the rest of Silkworm's catalog and is rich with cosmic guitar interplay, rivaling that of Television and The Kadane brothers, which is clearly evident on standouts "Dogtag" and "Repossession." The album's biggest misstep is Cohen's Side B opener "Dead Mans Blues," which is a little too tight and funky for my taste. Furthermore, hapless programmed drums offer an unwelcome distraction to the otherwise meditative "Sevens Sing." But with all kinks aside, there is much to be relished here, and the 1-2-3-4 punch of Side A leaves little to belittle.
Hammer of The Gods finds our heroes putting personal tragedy to bed and moving on. While it's not the best record Cohen and Midgett have been a part of (check out Lifestyle and Italian Platinum at your nearest convenience), it's certainly next in line, and like the undercurrent and subtle message of the album, it needs to exist.