The Linus Pauling Quartet let their full heroic fantasy/D&D player out to the full with Bag of Hammers; but then again, any album starting with a song named after Conan the Barbarian's god of steel, following an invocation from a female voice that might as well represent the wounded figure on the album cover clambering up a mountain of skulls with, indeed, a hammer, has something going for it. "Crom"'s subject matter and crunch may be power metal, but the sense of psychedelic wooziness and more echo than god remains, Hawkwind retooled for a generation that grew up with Gygax's work rather than with Gygax himself. Admittedly not everything is specifically about endless sessions of casting Magic Missile in between looking for the Mountain Dew, but with a song called "Saving Throw," which captures the just-barely pre-metal yelp and acid stomp of early-'70s hard rock perfectly, it's hard not to think of it. The chug and zone of "She Did Not Know" might be called a typical track for Bag of Hammers, but it's more apt to say that each song has its own twist. For instance, calling a song "Starchimp" is at once a great way to play up a slew of SF and fantasy tropes, and is just simply funny in and of itself, with the break running on a series of swelling flanged guitars and a skyscraping solo rising into the infinite as the rhythm rips along. The concluding "Stonebringer" wraps everything up with a big-ass steady stomp and freakout elaborating on everything before it, and about the only thing left to do is to bow your head and throw some devil horns.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett