Hammerhedd Offer A Glimpse At Metal’s Bright Future With Sophomore LP, ‘Nonetheless’

There’s something to be said about the chemistry formed between siblings in rock and metal bands. Whether it’s Alex & Eddie Van Halen, Vinnie Paul & Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, or more recently Joe & Mario Duplantier of Gojira, many of rock and metal’s most notable acts are a family affair. Hammerhedd, the up and coming progressive groove metal outfit from Kansas City, MO, is the genre’s latest ‘siblings’ band and possibly one of the most prodigious yet. Brothers Eli, Abe, and Henry Ismert makeup the entirety of Hammerhedd, and despite being only in their late teens and early twenties the Ismert brothers have already seen a wave of critical praise, and they’ve even shared the stage with some of heavy music’s most legendary and prominent bands such as In Flames, Power Trip, and Knocked Loose.

While Hammerhedd is indeed part of the latest generation of metal disciples, the band has strayed from partaking in commercial metal tropes and modern trends. Instead, Hammerhedd’s sonic makeup favors a wildly unique blend of old school influences like Metallica and Pink Floyd, contemporary acts Gojira and Mastodon, and even strong jazz influences on their latest LP. However, with this latest sophomore album, Nonetheless, Hammerhedd’s sound is starting to make full strides into promising new and uncharted territory. The type of excitement that oozes on this new record can only be described as the sensation of hearing a soon to be ‘classic’ band in the making. With eclectic arrangements that stretch past the eight minute mark, and pummeling riffs that rival groove metal pioneers Pantera and Meshuggah, Hammerhedd manage to induce listeners into a trance of emotive heaviness that far few bands are capable of doing in this day and age.

In an effort to learn more about one of metal’s most promising new bands, Forbes spoke with Hammerhedd vocalist/guitarist Henry Ismert about the band’s upbringing within heavy music, as well as what the future holds for the band following the release of their latest record, Nonetheless.

Quentin Singer: There’s certainly something to be said about being siblings in a metal band, especially when you look at the tightly knit sound that comes from groove based bands like Pantera, Sepultura, and Gojira. I think that same synergy is found in Hammerhedd between you three brothers.

Henry Ismert: I would say that it’s luck that we’re all brothers, and I wouldn’t say there’s really any negatives to it. We don’t have to compromise, we pretty much tell it exactly how it is and when we fight it’s over in like 2 minutes and no body’s feelings stay hurt. I feel like it’d be different if there were friends in the band. We’ve never had to hire anybody and that’s a massive hassle that most bands have to do. We’re all three equally part of the band, we don’t think that two of us write the songs, it’s all equal. We don’t have to schedule jams, we don’t have to schedule anything because we’re all in the same house.

Singer: When did you guys know that this was going to be something that you wanted to pursue as a career? Were all three of you on the same page initially with making this happen?

Ismert: It was always our vision, and I think a good consequence of starting young is that first of all everything you write you think sounds really good. You don’t go through the phase of ‘oh my god I suck’ and even though we did for a long time we all sort of had that ‘we want to do this for a living’ and then we started taking tangible steps to do that two years ago. My main one was I stopped going to college and I started working, and then Eli didn’t go to college so we’re one hundred percent in on the band.

Singer: Where did you guys come up with the name for the band initially? What was its significants?

Ismert: I believe I’m the one who came up with it when I was 13 because it sounded cool and then the H, E, D, D, that’s like a thrash thing, like Megadeth. We thought it was sick and we never changed it because if even one person knows you as Hammerhedd, like when we were 15, if even 10 people knew us as the band Hammerhedd then we didn’t want to be like ‘oh we’re changing it now.’

Singer: Being from Kansas City, is there a prominent metal scene in the area the band was able to connect with? Or is metal and heavy music far more of a niche in your local music scene?

Ismert: It’s almost not our place to say it if there is one or not, because we were too young to hang with anyone. I know of five bands that have been around since I’ve been going to shows but we couldn’t really see them or play shows with them personally because we were too young. We played on the street for a long time and then when we started playing more shows locally opening for bands COVID-19 hit, so we actually haven’t been doing a lot of local stuff at all and we need to get back to that because it’s definitely important to root in your local scene, but we almost haven’t gotten the opportunity yet. We will within the next five years.

Singer: Well with the way things operate now in the music industry, it’s interesting because you almost don’t necessarily need to be part of a local scene with the way the industry is integrated digitally now. I mean regardless of how much Hammerhedd has participated in Kansas City’s local metal scene, you all have played some very notable gigs opening for the likes of Power Trip and In Flames over recent years.

Ismert: Yeah In Flames was a tour on the east coast, that was our first real tour, and power trip was a local show — that was one of the best shows ever it was so fun. That was one of those shows where it was like “yeah I could do this forever.”

Singer: The type of heavy music you all play is not exactly the norm of today’s young and up and coming heavy bands, and it’s certainly more inline with old school and late 90’s/early 2000s metal. Do you find yourself listening to many new bands from today’s scene?

Ismert: Honestly, this is because we’re picky, but we don’t listen to a lot of it. However, when we play with bands live and generally speaking if the live show is any good and usually it’s better than ours, I’ll go back to their discography. I honestly didn’t know one Knocked Loose song until we played with them in October and I kind of love the last three albums they put out, they’re sick as hell. That’s probably our favorite show we’ve ever played it was so sick, those guys are awesome and that crowd was awesome. They’re kind of weird in a good way, they attract a different audience and it’s almost like a smaller version of the audience Slipknot attracts — it’s kind of everybody.

Singer: Well as far as non-metal influences go, the new record definitely showcases some unique influences you guys have outside of the realm of heavy music, specifically jazz. Where did jazz come into play for your guys’ musical upbringing and influences?

Ismert: I think Eli brought that to the writing sessions at least this time around, probably two and a half years ago that started. We got into a few metal drummers that are super jazz based like Tomas Haake (Meshuggah), Matt Gartska from Animals As Leaders, Morgan Ågren, those dudes are beasts. Honestly all of the drummers that we collectively like they have Jazz chops and they can lay it down, so we’re kind of addicted to ‘jazzy’ sounding metal and more recently just straight up jazz. I’d say though that Tomas from Meshuggah is probably the main one.

Singer: Were your parents big into heavy music? Or did you all go down the metal rabbit hole on your own discovering bands like Gojira and Sepultura?

Ismert: Yeah Me and Eli specifically, Abe our bassist and keyboardist isn’t really into those bands but he brings a different flavor to the writing process. We went down the rabbit hole after our parents knew about Metallica — my dad likes Metallica a lot. Then before us showing them a bunch of bands, they knew of a few 90’s metal bands like White Zombie and bands around 95’ 96’ that came through their college town. It was more that we got Metallica — we were addicted for four years to Metallica and all of the 80’s and 90’s thrash bands — then we went straight down the rabbit hole after that.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/quentinsinger/2023/02/24/hammerhedd-offer-a-glimpse-at-metals-bright-future-with-sophomore-lp-nonetheless/