The first mention of a band named ‘Bottomless Pit’ will likely evoke images of spike and leather-clad metalheads. Add to that an album titled Hammer of the Gods, and you’ve more or less got Manowar without even playing one song. Perhaps that’s what Bottomless Pit had in mind when naming both the band and their debut album, but the sounds recorded on Hammer of the Gods couldn’t be further from such an extreme. Comprising Silkworm members Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett, Seam’s Chris Manfrin and .22’s Brian Orchard, Bottomless Pit picks up where all of its members’ former bands left off, for the most part, yielding classic, forceful indie rock, the likes of which have been surprisingly scarce of late.
Indie rock is having something of a surge in popularity at the moment, fueled by the success of bands like The Arcade Fire, Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, Vampire Weekend and Peter Bjorn and John. But while those bands each have a unique pop sensibility, they just don’t have the jagged edges and rawness of indie rock’s best offerings of decades past. During much of the ’90s, bands like Archers of Loaf, Polvo, Superchunk, Jawbox, and Versus backed their accessible rock with sheer power. While you don’t hear as many groups with as high a ratio of fierceness to hooks, Bottomless Pit finds their niche in filling that very void. Hammer of the Gods isn’t so much a throwback to the ’90s, however, as it sounds quite contemporary. It merely harnesses the best aspects of the 1990s indie rock renaissance and reconstructs them in a melodic, graceful and, without a doubt, powerful collection of songs.
In leadoff track “The Cardinal Movements,” Tim Midgett croons “those dreams are never-ending” as Manfrin, Cohen and Orchard let loose beneath him, turning the song from a steady but glossy rocker into an explosive force, similar to Silkworm’s more intense moments. “Dog Tag” is, too, less intense at first, though soon erupting into distorted furor. There’s a much more upbeat, major key tone to “Repossession,” its epic, yet bouncy approach making it an instant highlight. Orchard’s agile bass work drives the song, while Midgett and Cohen make their guitars surge in acrobatic dance. It’s fuzzy and warm, but truly gorgeous, just like the other seven songs on Hammer of the Gods. “Leave the Light On” is restrained and delicate, with touches of piano and pick harmonics interrupting the spare rhythm section, while “Dead Man’s Blues” chugs and grinds with more outright down and dirty rock than anything that precedes it.
Given the demise of Silkworm after the tragic loss of Michael Dahlquist, it’s encouraging, and rather exciting to hear Midgett and Cohen back to making impeccable, and beautifully constructed indie rock. Bottomless Pit doesn’t quite reach the dynamics of the world’s loudest band, but there’s a tension and urgency in each song that makes their music more intense than any Viking solo could accomplish.
Silkworm – Firewater
Seam – Are You Driving Me Crazy?
Pond – Rock Collection
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.