Death metal has always been the genre for freaks and geeks, hardly the kind of thing you would show to your mother on a rainy day. Nevertheless, certain groups seem to have a sort of freakish dedication to the genre, composing songs with gruesome titles and weird verbal images. Fisthammer is one of those bands, the product of a couple of friends hellbent on taking over the world with their music we sit here now almost seven years in, watching a band who seem destined to rise up and stun audiences across the globe.
The human drama of Fisthammer comes from the fact that it seems that the world is perpetually bent against them. For every step they take in a positive direction, some devastating setback seems to come down and hit them hard. They’ve had a number of tours fall through at the last minute, they’ve had all night drives for shows that have been cancelled (But no van breakdowns yet!) and all manner of unprofessional bullshit hounding their collective tails. Yet still they persevere, creating a sort of epic narrative, men abandoned by many of their peers and looked down on by society as they plow ever forward into a brave new world.
Perhaps you could accuse me of over romanticizing death metal, but people far more intelligent than myself have already gone out of their way to prove that death metal is an essentially romantic genre. How else could you justify songs like Doom of the Gods Part II: Níðhöggr Winged Serpent of Hel? Sure they may claim it’s just because they’re into horror, mythology and history but you can not deny a decidely 19th century twist that some of the bands more epic works have. After all, aren’t those subject what the romantic creatives mostly wrote about? (Death Metal Underground) For example, Wagners Ring Cycle is essentially the same epic stuff that makes up your average Fisthammer song. It might seem incongruous, but considering that not only are these guys extremely talented but also a little bit weird, it makes sense. Most of the alleged ‘great’ composers throughout history shared those traits.
It seems that despite it all, no one implements the romanticism of death metal better than Fisthammer, whose riffs, written in large part by the ingenious Max Svalgard, are filled with arpeggiated frills and frolicking bass lines, driven forth by the young and hungry Nick Rivello, prove that this band is more than just your standard issue death metal act. This noble pair of ax wielders have in a very short time been able to come up with a powerful stage presence that shows two men totally locked in to their music. On top of that, the bands drummer, Danny Piselli, who is, in my reckoning one of the best drummers on the Eastern seaboard, tears apart the kit with an impressive level of incredibly precise but almost animalistic ferocity. Such is the cast of characters who make up this rather remarkable band, whose story is only just unfolding. This band is set to take the long shot and they know that the odds of success are slim, but that’s the beauty of it. The fact that they persevere nonetheless proves their dedication to the music above all things.
The brutal reality that Fisthammer live is one that is faced by all of the wonderful, but sadly underrepresented death metal bands that populate Middle America. They barely have any money, can’t really find places to play all ages shows and still play to less than ten people every now and then. Simply put, playing in a death metal band sucks. The bands drummer, Danny Piselli said “There’s always a sense that we get rolling and then we have setbacks that come out of the blue.” But here’s the thing, Fisthammer seem to have a sort of magic about them that more and more people are getting turned on to. Acclaimed metal blogs from across the globe have praised them. Reviewers have said things like “I haven’t felt this excited for a newer death metal band in FOREVER.” (sic) or “Their songwriting is adventurous and they prove they know oscillating modern metal techniques inside and out.” While they remain humble merely saying “It’s nice that people put it in such high regard.” Yet, something seems to indicate that this bands is special.
The sense of destiny behind Fisthammer is indomitable and speaks to the greater power of death metal. Though they may be a band who very much dwell in the basement, there story is the story of death metal bands everywhere, the only difference is that it looks like they’re going to make it big. Piselli said “We want to go out and play to bigger audiences. That’s our destiny so to speak. That’s the destiny we’re trying to build as a band, you’ll call us and we’ll fucking do it.” This is a wholly remarkable band who are putting out some of the most dynamic and thought provoking death metal to come out in years. They are proving that this isn’t just a genre for meatheads and slackers, but that there can still be real substance and a visceral sense of reality behind the music.
The fact of the matter is that these guys are building towards something bigger and better. There is a sense of momentum about this band that has built up over multiple nation spanning tours and hundreds of local shows. These guys are starting to get all the right connections and they know it. It seems that the time for them to strike is rapidly approaching, and yet, things seem strangely quiet from the Fisthammer camp. Though they’ve hinted to fans at a few tours to come, some fans wonder what these guys will be up to next. Some say they need a second guitarist before things really explode, others just think they need just one lucky break. For a band like Fisthammer though, breaks are few and far between. Even though the metal underground is freaking out over this band, that doesn’t mean anything to the powers that be. Yet as they raise their fists and look down upon their foes, it’s hard to not believe that these guys are going somewhere fast. As they put it “As long as we can get our music out and get people to feel it we’re happy!” Darlings of the local scene, these guys are rising up and giving a sense of legitimacy to an entire group of fans. They shake, rattle and roll unlike any other, so perhaps its time to give in and let the music take control of the shattered fragments that make up our lives.