Hammers Of Misfortune is a band I was introduced to with the release of their “17th Street” album in 2011. With a mix of old-school sensibility and current heavy progressive tendencies, I found the band to have a remarkable sound that was enjoyable and exciting to listen to.
Fast forward almost five years later, and the band have finally put forth “Dead Revolution”. In retrospect, five years is quite a break since their last album, but it makes sense when the context shows that vocalist Joe Hutton was in a serious motorcycle accident that came close to claiming his life, and guitarist John Cobbett and his wife and keyboard/organ mastermind Sigrid Sheie released material with Vhöl. So to say there were other matters occupying the members of the group is a bit of an understatement.
So with full focus and attention back on the band, I worried that the break between albums would interrupt the creative streak in some way and kill the magic that they unleashed years back. I’m glad to say that those specific fears have been dashed in favour of relief and pleasure that I’m given when listening to “Dead Revolution”. While the opening track “The Velvet Inquisition” starts out with straight-forward streamlined guitar riffery, it’s also pumped up with a great gallop and pounce. Sheie’s organ work is perfectly interspersed within the retro sounds. Jon Lord would be most proud! The album’s title track gives me everything I want in a song by the band. Drummer Will Carroll really shines on this track, with his bombastic approach and welcome cowbell. Everything works here to show the overall strengths of the band with all instruments showing off and coming together in a glorious climax. If you ever wanted to show anyone a track by this band, this would be a great introduction as it incorporates all the greatest aspects of their sound.
The songs then range from mid-paced with an emphasis on the drawn-out and all-encompassing ambiance on “Sea Of Heroes” (which features interesting harmonious use of the vocals of Hutton, Sheie, and guitarist Abdul-Rauf on this track, giving a rather creepy choir-like vibe to the proceedings), to a straight-ahead rocker in “The Precipice”, to the ominous and somber depth of “Here Comes The Sky”. This particular song features a laid-back vocal approach with great piano work. The use of slide-guitar adds to the broad spectrum of the band’s already layered sound. Adding to that is the Spanish themed acoustic guitars and trumpets that appear at the end of the song. Very interesting and welcome to these ears.
“Flying Alone”, while perhaps being the most fun outing on this record, reminds me of a ridiculously amped-up version of “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet crossed with the more high-performance material from Deep Purple, which is topped off by a modern metal flair. There’s an amazing use of sampling established works and making something new out of it in this track in particular, which has been one of the major strengths of the band. “Days of ‘49” closes out the album in a melancholy and somewhat unexpected way considering how energetic the bulk of the album is. This folk standard that traces it’s lineage back to the California gold rush of the 1800’s (and later popularized by Bob Dylan) is given the band’s unique twist with it’s doom inspired backdrop.
So through the seven songs on this remarkable comeback of sorts, the band makes it’s way through a varied terrain and gives us the scope and fantastic musicianship that we’ve come to expect from them. It’s absolutely astounding how all the instruments work together in a glorious fashion, all weaving in and out and either complimenting each other with a masterful cohesion, or showcasing the individual traits of the musicians. There’s a special energy going on in this band, and it’s very much appreciated by myself and their fans.
And while the band may take time off again before the next release comes to fruition, it’s comforting to know that the care, preparation and overall technique of the players involved will no doubt be able to be at the very least replicated in future works, and at the most, they’ll top this great collection of songs.
01. The Velvet Inquisition
02. Dead Revolution
03. Sea Of Heroes
04. The Precipice05. Here Comes The Sky
06. Flying Alone
07. Days Of ’49
Playing time: 46:41
Release date: 22 July, 2016
Label: Metal Blade Records
Website: Metal Blade Records Band Page