Chicago stalwart Silkworm was approaching the 20th year doling out its brand of perfectly measured guitar rock when a crazed driver crashed into a car containing the band's drummer, Michael Dahlquist, and two of his friends, killing them instantly. It's likely that much of Hammer of the Gods — the first album by Bottomless Pit, the new band of Dahlquist's bandmates Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett, along with drummer Chris Manfrin (Seam) and bassist Brian Orchard (.22) — would have made it onto the tenth Silkworm album. But it's also impossible to imagine this album sounding and feeling the way it does without Dahlquist's loss.
The new band's sound is lived-in and immediately accessible, thick around the middle but still needling, with Cohen's lead guitar seething and foaming beautifully throughout, especially in the chilly beginning of “Leave the Light On” (moments of which bear an eerie resemblance to, of all things, U2's “New Year's Day”). “Dead Man's Blues” is both basement-indie raw-and-ready and bar-band pro. But the most touching moment is “Human Out of Me.” Midgett's voice warbles plain as plaid, pained and tearing up over its fifth beer: “I can't believe my heart is still beating/ I can't believe how terrible it felt/ I can't believe I did not see before that/ You helped teach me how to talk,” he sings. “You helped make a human out of me.”