SKYHAMMER – The Skyhammer EP

Over the decades, metal has gone through various changes and spawned a lot of different heavy – and increasingly heavier – subgenres, but sometimes, there’s a genuine pleasure in hearing a band thundering out a riff or six that takes things right back to basics. Australia’s Skyhammer bill themselves as “a traditional metal band” and within the first ten seconds of this self-titled EP, that traditional – and very 80s – aspect of their art is presented rather unapologetically. For lovers of the style, this will be a good thing, especially with the opening track showcasing some fab twin lead guitar sounds inspired by Iron Maiden circa 1984.

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For Australian rockers The Mercy Kills, there has to be a sense of relief in finally seeing ‘New Rule’ gain a full release. Recorded back in 2010, the EP reached promo stage – a few copies were even handed out at gigs – and then got cancelled. The material then spent the next ten years sitting in someone’s personal archive, always hinting at what could have been.

After finally seeing the light of day via Golden Robot Records (home to Michael des Barres and one incarnation of LA Guns) in 2021, it’s clear that it wasn’t an obvious lack of quality that caused the plug to be pulled prematurely way back when. The five tracks that make up ‘New Rule’ are a little rough vocally speaking, but by and large, are very good: there’s enough of a hard rock edge to please fans of an 80s rock style and there’s even a slightly sleazy undertone that suggests a love of glam. There are also several flashbacks to a more alternative 90s ensuring everything never sounds like a bad 80s throwback. Most importantly, some really fat basslines often give the material a fair amount of muscle. For a DIY release, ‘New Rule’ had – and still has – a fair amount in its favour.

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With their combination of hard hitting riffs and no-nonsense attitude, Rose Tattoo quickly became heroes of the Aussie rock scene in the late 70s. The missing link between AC/DC and Cold Chisel, the band had an incendiary frontman in Angry Anderson, which also gave them an easily recognisable brand. Their first two albums, 1978’s ‘Rose Tattoo’ and 1981’s ‘Assault & Battery’ remain firm favourites among fans.

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