Sensory Overload: Nukkehammer's punishing doom leaves writer in wonderment

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

You ever look at a man and think about how he used to be a baby? I mean, obviously the thought crosses your mind when you look at somebody like Aaron Craft, who still looks very much like a baby. But what about a crust punk? What twists and turns of life lead a person from diapers to combat boots, a knotty dreadlock/beard mane and a black T-shirt that reads “F--- YOU YOU F---ING F---”?

After Craft’s rosy cheeks failed to save the day Saturday night and Ohio State lost to the Shockers(!) of Wichita State, I made my way to Ace of Cups for some violently uncouth music. The strategy worked wonders last year, when I caught Pink Reason after OSU bombed out of the Elite Eight. This time out, the band in question was Nukkehammer, whose name has been popping up on playbills more frequently since bassist/vocalist Matt Miner returned from Washington, D.C.

Between Miner, guitarist/vocalist Laser and drummer Dennis Berendts, these guys have a monstrous pedigree in Columbus metal and hardcore: members of Vile Gash, Black Dove, Killed In Action and Teeth of the Hydra, powerhouses all; the owner of Dreadful Sounds, the city’s foremost depot for extreme music; the brains behind Solar Funeral, one of Central Ohio’s most consistently punishing record labels.

It should come as no surprise, then, that they blasted us from the soundcheck onward. Yes, the feedback is normal, they explained.

The set began with a slow-churn doom riff to set the mood, but soon they were on to frantic bombardment and dual guttural grunting. Song titles along the lines of “Soviet Rust Belt” betrayed a fascination with the Cold War-era U.S.S.R., appropriate for a stage emblazoned with a hammer and sickle. But the deployment was a hot-blooded onslaught — speed freak spasmodics marked by shards of thrash, crust and d-beat. It was awesomely gruesome. (Gruesomely awesome?)

My palate for bands like Nukkehammer is about as advanced as my taste for Scotch, which is to say you could feed me well whiskey and I wouldn’t know the difference. But man, was that stuff strong.