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Hammer No More The Fingers
Black Shark
Churchkey Records
www.hnmtf.com


The age of enthusiasm for emo rock has wheedled down considerably, though a few sparks remain, like Hammer No More The Fingers. The trio's latest release, Black Shark, from Churchkey Records shows overtones of Fall Out Boys' catchy grooves and whipping guitar flourishes with an articulation reflective of Jimmy Eat World. HNMTF's creations are heavily influenced by the work of their producer J. Robbins who has produced such recording artists as Lemuria and The Promise Ring. Sometimes it causes the album to sound locked in a time that has passed; although what the group does with it can galvanize rock fans.

The dance grooves of "Steam" are stylized with rippling bass lines by lead vocalist/bassist Duncan Webster with a funky groove reminiscent of Razorlight. The punk-inspired banging of the drumbeats by Jeff Stickley and the booming thrusts of guitarist Joe Hall in "Leroy" might feel familiar to fans of bands that Robbins has shaped in the past. The accelerating groove in "The Agency" is catchy, and the steady rhythmic pulse of "Thunder n' Rain" is garnished in orchestral accents by guest musician Gordon Withers on cello which adds a complementing texture to the song. The slinky ringlets of the cello in "Fingernails" gives the track a contemporary glare though it is tucked in the vibrating chords of the guitar railed by the steady tribal beating of the drums.

The lyrics have a profound glint, like in "Atlas of An Eye" as Webster describes, "In the landing of a dive / how do you know when you've arrived? / know that you're alive / how rootless are the twigs / that grow in every hole you dig." Other lyrics resound with an out of body experience like in "The Visitor" as the words paint a vivid image in the mind, "I know where you want to go / floating up the stairs / staring at the town below / I know."

HNMTF may not be carving out a new niche in rock music, but what they play sounds good. The springy flusters of Joe Hall's guitar and the vocal stretches of Duncan Webster create a soaring effect in the tracks that gives the songs a magnetic epic rock tint. The effect has been done before so there is nothing new here, but it does makes the album resonate with rock fans.

-Susan Frances

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