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Hammers Of Misfortune

Experimental/Post Metal

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Hammers Of Misfortune The August Engine album cover
3.87 | 22 ratings | 3 reviews | 27% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The August Engine (Part 1) (4:52)
2. Rainfall (3:11)
3. A Room and a Riddle (5:12)
4. The August Engine (Part 2) (8:56)
5. Insect (5:19)
6. Doomed Parade (5:40)
7. The Trial and the Grave (11:12)

Total Time: 44:22

Line-up / Musicians

- John Cobbett / guitar, producer
- Mike Scalzi / guitar, vocals
- Janis Tanaka / bass, vocals
- Chewy Marzolo / drums

- Lorraine Rath / vocals (2)
- Kris Force / violin (2)
- Sitara Kapoor / cello (2)

Releases information

Artwork: John Cobbett

LP Tumult ‎- none (2003, US)

CD Cruz Del Sur Music ‎- cruz05 (2003, Italy)
CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14915-2 (2010, US)

Thanks to Bryan for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE The August Engine ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE The August Engine reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars After making a splash in the world of progressive metal with its debut album "The Bastard," the San Francisco based HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE led by guitarist John Cobbett began writing an even more ambitious rock opera that was supposed to rival or exceed the grandiosity of an epic tale such as Pink Floyd's "The Wall" but the record companies who release these albums simply were not having it and Cobbett and his project were forced to start from scratch when crafting a sophomore release. The result of taking a new approach led them to the musical workouts that would appear on THE AUGUST ENGINE which while not quite as ambitious as what had been planned still ended up as a concept album that revolved around a continued conversation between the microcosm and the macrocosm and how each individual in society amounts to being a mere cog in a greater design that is referred to by the title.

Well, ok then! Concept albums are fun and often nebulous in the philosophical wankery but the good thing about albums like THE AUGUST ENGINE is that the themes lend a lot to the listener's interpretation. While "The Bastard" was basically set up like an rock opera in three acts, THE AUGUST ENGINE is basically the sum of the parts of seven disparate tracks that borrowed a lot from the debut's sound such as the classic Lord Weird Slough Feg heavy metal that guitarist / vocalist Mike Scalzi brought to the table as well as the folk elements but this time around the folk is less medieval sounding and the progressive aspects have been turned up making this album seem much more like a progressive metal album than the debut. Despite the more daring compositional twists and turns and time signature zigzagging, THE AUGUST ENGINE retains the heavy metal bombast of the debut.

The instrumentation on "The Bastard" was performed only by four musicians: John Cobbett (guitar, producer), Mike Scalzi (guitar, vocals), Janis Tanaka (bass, vocals) and Chewy Marzolo (drums). THE AUGUST ENGINE found the same lineup with three extra musicians on "Rainfall" which included extra vocals, violin and cello. No credits for keyboards are presented but there are a few piano runs but the keys haven't been fully integrated like they would be on the band's following album "The Locust" which added the extra elements needed to make HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE feel like a bona fide prog metal band. The metal and folk elements tended to trade off on the debut while on THE AUGUST ENGINE they have become more integrated with alterations between the two as well as simultaneous weavings of the two styles. Same goes with the vocals of Scalzi and Tanaka who compliment each other's harmonies as often as they take the lead. The guitar runs are much more adventurous this time around with just as many long-winded space rock styled solos set in metal fashion as well as the expected crunchy riffing sections.

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE succeeds in crafting a worthy epic sounding album after it's magnanimous perfect debut but in many ways THE AUGUST ENGINE sounds more like a transition between the prog laced metal and folk interludes of the debut album and the full-fire prog assaults of the following "The Locust" however the album instills its own charm and works for what it is and also established the band as one that would not be happy simply repeating what came before and displayed a true passion for progressing beyond what had been established before. Given the fact that "The Bastard" took the idea to its logical conclusion on the first try meant the band had to seek out a slightly different path and THE AUGUST ENGINE displays the band taking on more progressive workouts with sludgy thrash metal riffs that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Mastodon album along with the classic 80s heavy metal sounds as well as atmospheric moments that remind of atmospheric black metal and even moments of doom metal. Even the folk is darker this time around as the flavors of the Renaissance had been completely abandoned in favor of a darker more sinister vibe.

To be honest, i've had a hard time warming up to THE AUGUST ENGINE as i find the debut and the following album to be superior but i have found this to be a personal choice and after giving this several spins i have to admit that despite my preference for the other albums, THE AUGUST ENGINE is nevertheless a very professional sounding album that exceeds on many levels even if not taking things to the places i would prefer they go. The vocal team of Scialzi and Tanaka create beautiful melodic harmonies that sweeten the fast tempo metal assaults and doomy dirge effects along with the soaring guitars that pacify the pounding bass and drum action. The folk elements are scarcer on this second album however "Rainfall" is completely in the realms of dark folk and the beautiful intro on "Insect" shows how tastefully the band had steered these sounds into a darker arena. Ever so often such as on "Doomed Parade" a few medieval tinged moments do emerge. Once again the tracks are not overweeningly lengthy for the most part. Only the title track "Part 2" which nears nine minutes and the 11 minute "The Trial And The Grave" deliver extended prog formats. THE AUGUST ENGINE is a worthy followup to the perfection of "The Bastard" and although doesn't quite hit that high mark, is still an excellent slice of progressive metal that sounds like no other.

Latest members reviews

5 stars John Cobbett has earned quite a reputation in the underground metal scene for his creative and rather unique riffs. In Hammers of Misfortune, Cobbett infuses progressive rock with a more traditional metal sound. So far, I have listened to three of their albums, Dead Revolution, The Locust Years, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1740547) | Posted by Bruhfluhquannie | Monday, July 3, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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