"Behind Midwest Storefronts" kicks the album off on the strength Mike Rempel's expressive guitar. His playing is loose and exploratory, then ramps up with further intensity as the song approaches its conclusion. "Age of Inexperience" opens with screaming guitar, bouncy bass lines, and likable vocals. The musicians add interesting details to this composition, as synthesized flourishes are layered over a foundation of drums, bass and guitar. The title track "Hammerstrike" ambles loosely over the musical terrain, featuring exploratory guitar in a rich tapestry, weighing in at over 6 minutes long. "Bellwether," showcasing cow bell, electronic punctuation, and Rempel's trademark guitar, coalesces into one of the highlights of the album. "Modicum" meanders past, utilizing airy guitar and evanescent lyrics to capture a more subdued side of the Lotus equation, while "Invincibility of Youth" inspires similar thought processes with its collection of yearning violins and cellos. "Alkaline," with acidic guitar and expressive keyboard work, rushes forward in joyous, head-spinning fashion. "Turquoise" spotlights guitars, keys, and vocals in wistful fashion, paving the way for "Disappear In a Blood Red Sky," which concludes the album.
In reviewing "Hammerstrike," I was very impressed with the direction that Lotus has taken in this new phase of their career. They have generated plenty of buzz and momentum after landing high profile festival gigs and gaining larger audiences, but don't seem to be resting on their laurels. The collection of tracks on "Hammerstrike" is danceable, fun, and engaging, but also thoughtful, deliberate, and well-composed. I find the "throwback" quality of the album to be enjoyable, as Lotus has fused the merits of 70s "deep cuts" with their signature, organic sound to create a varied, satisfying album. The 10 tracks spotlighted on "Hammerstrike" feature exciting grooves, accomplished guitar work, and demonstrates Lotus to be hitting on all cylinders as they move forward in 2009.
- By J. Evan Wade