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Hammers of Misfortune - The August Engine CD (album) cover

THE AUGUST ENGINE

Hammers of Misfortune

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.32 | 12 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars A mixture of experimental metal riffing, folk and Gothic doom.

Hammers of Misfortune are an experimental metal outfit with some innovative prog riffing and very complex lead soling. The rhythms are broken and are often quick tempo with very slow lead guitar overlayed by Cobbett's guitar and a steady beat. "The August Engine" is one of the best albums from the band beginning with the amazing fast and creative instrumental August Engine No. 1. There are short blastbeats on this with the oddest time sig, and some acoustic pieces merge it into the next track.

Rainfall is acoustic and piano at the beginning and then the female vocals of Sheie smoothly and gently chime in, with beautiful harmonies. The contrast from tension to release is astounding.

A Room and A Riddle returns to the blistering metal riffs with a chugging pace and pounding drums. The vocals are a male and female harmony sounding quite dark and foreboding. The rhythms are fractured and as strange as the vocal style.

Another great track is Insect beginning with folky acoustic guitar and estranged harmonised vocals. The monotone melody is off kilter and it builds gradually to a loud distorted guitar chord progression and lead soloing. The song takes off with strong vocals and riffing. There are some weird time sigs on drums from Marzolo and the track fades eventually.

Doomed Parade has some of the best vocals of Cobbett, and nice trade offs from Sheie. The beat is broken by pauses and the lead break is wonderful, echoing twin lead guitar solos and harmonics over acoustic flourishes. There is a majestic feel with the vocals and then it settles into a minimalist acoustic with the Gothic female vocals taking over. Eventually the main motif returns with male vocals and it ends with a crashing finale.

The Trial and The Grave is quite doomy with a downbeat chord structure. At 11:12 it is the longest track on the album and features many different mood swings with time shifts and splintering musical structures. The female harmonies are strong; "was it a dream, is it just I or the world that's gone mad, I searched for a headstone, what did I find in time, nothing but a blackness." The Gothic essence is captured in the main verses at the beginning, quite stark and chilling; "standing condemned, the trial commenced, none to defend her and no evidence, the sentence was passed, a barrister laughs, when they had killed her they cut her in half." The chilling words are overlayed by doom laden Sabbath-esque chords. The vengeance of the corpse is inevitable here and it gets into some dark territory. The atmosphere is ethereal and the music consistently feels downbeat, including the repetitive lead solo.

Overall the album features a huge range of styles, is highly experimental and very dark overall. The front cover with German gassings and apocalyptic bombings from screaming jets paints the tormented picture of war and pain. The music reflects this in places, and as a newcomer to the band I can recommend this for those who like their metal forged with a dark blade, and sliced up with folk and Gothic influences.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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