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HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Hammers Of Misfortune biography
Formed in San Francisco, California, USA in 2000 (Known before as Unholy Cadaver)

Originally formed as Unholy Cadaver, Hammers of Misfortune are the brainchild of ex-Lord Weird Slough Feg guitarist John Cobbett, who composes the material and provides both guitar and a portion of the vocals. Cobbett's ex-bandmate Mike Scalzi (frontman for The Lord Weird Slough Feg) and keyboardist Sigrid Sheie provide the remainder of the vocals, with Jamie Meyers (bass) and Chewy Marzolo (drums) filling out the group's lineup. Their style has constantly evolved over the course of their lifespan and proven nearly impossible to track down, but they generally shift around a doomy and elaborate style of heavy metal, with some occasional acoustic/folk influences presenting themselves. The band's remarkable ability to shift tones and approaches from song to song as well as their remarkable musicianship and songwriting talents have earned considerable acclaim for each of their releases thus far, culminating with the release of 2006's The Locust Years. The band's lineup has since undergone drastic change, with Scalzi, Meyers and Marzolo all exiting the group's ranks for various reasons (Scalzi to focus on his main band, Meyers to raise her new baby and Marzolo due to work commitments).

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HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE discography


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HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.95 | 17 ratings
The Bastard
2001
3.87 | 23 ratings
The August Engine
2003
4.43 | 35 ratings
The Locust Years
2005
4.07 | 23 ratings
Fields / Church Of Broken Glass
2008
3.71 | 20 ratings
17th Street
2011
3.40 | 5 ratings
Unholy Cadaver
2011
3.71 | 17 ratings
Dead Revolution
2016

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HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The August Engine by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.87 | 23 ratings

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The August Engine
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

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.

 The Bastard by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.95 | 17 ratings

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The Bastard
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars The progressive metal band HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE actually got its start way back in mid-90s San Francisco under the name Unholy Cadaver which consisted of only guitarist John Corbett and drummer Chewy Marzolo who also shared vocals. The project then took on new life as new musicians joined the ranks. The first was Mike Scalzi better known as the vocalist / guitarist of another legendary San Francisco band, The Lord Weird Slough Feg. The trio practiced and recorded a lot of demo material, none of which would end up on the future projects of HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, a name that was adopted in the year 2000 from one of the track titles. While the demo material would be scrapped and later released in 2011 as an archival release under the moniker Unholy Cadaver, as HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE, the trio welcomed bassist and vocalist Janis Tanaka to the club and set out to record a new more interesting progressive form of metal.

The band's first album THE BASTARD (often with a the subtitle "A Tale Told In Three Acts") was quite the undertaking and an adventurous journey in the form of a metal opera that takes place in three acts much like a Shakespearean play or some other epic tale that requires an expansive narrative to convey, however THE BASTARD was not released as some ridiculous sprawling three disc set or anything of the sort. The band had the good sense to keep this an album's length and at a normal playing time of 46 minutes, it hits all the high notes without a lot of fluff which makes this a pretty decent start for this eclectic band that would change its sound dramatically on each album throughout its career. It's worth noting that despite the excellent production that graces THE BASTARD, this entire album was simply recorded in a rehearsal studio on an 8-track analog machine in San Francisco from July 1999 to February 2000. The album itself didn't emerge until 2001 but got rave reviews from the metal world and put HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE on the metal radar right from the start.

While considered a progressive metal album, this isn't the kind of stuff Dream Theater or Symphony X were cranking out. THE BASTARD was an unholy union of traditional 80s heavy metal along with what sounds like medieval English folk music however the band does manage to tease in more progressive elements and extended proggy fills. Upon first listen i was wondering why the singer sounded so familiar as did some of the guitar riffs and then it became clear that it was because of the Scalzi connection as the Slough Feg sound is strewn throughout the album's run. Basically what THE BASTARD excels in as the narrative unfolds is basically alternate between beefy metal guitar riffs, beefy bass chops and stellar drumming narrative with the male vocals and then follows with the contrast of more light and airy folk sounds with the female vocal charm of Janis Tanaka who also plays some pretty tight bass. The connecting tissue that binds the two disparate styles is where the progressive runs tend to gravitate along with an occasional solo. At times the metal drifts into power metal territory and also an occasional black metal moment.

The album consists of three acts and fourteen tracks but for the most part the tracks run together and it's impossible to distinguish them from each other as the melodies simply carry over and the song sort of drifts into a new one as the storyline proceeds. Exceptions occur when abrupt changes such as the bombastic metal heft of "Tyrant Dies" completely ends and the gleeful mandolin folk cheer of "The Witch's Dance" follows. The continuity is really quite well laid out as the tracks capture all the essence of a rock your socks off heavy metal album but also cools off with exquisitely sublime moments of medieval folk music as if you left the metal concert and walked into the Renaissance fair. The brevity of the tracks is the album's greatest strength as THE BASTARD never lags in overblown pompous cycles that many rock opera's suffer from. Only the grande finale "Sacrifice The End" has a lengthy playing time near nine minutes and as a result is the most progressive with many differing movements, tones, timbres and elements of surprise.

Everything about this album works quite well actually. The musicianship is outstanding. The cleverly crafted compositions are all interesting by both keeping a unified feel of the entire album yet adding different elements to give each track its own personality. The contrasting vocal styles of Tanaka and Scalzi are perfectly matched and the progressive elements are tastefully woven into the big picture instead of simply adding proggy workouts for their own sake. Best of all this is metal that you can bang your head to. The metal is the real deal but the down time is quite welcome and beautifully performed. The band mastered both the metal and folk aspects perfectly and yet somehow found a perfect way to meld it altogether and craft a concept album that runs as tightly as some classical score from the distant past. Add to that the fiery passion of all the performers and this one is a true winner and perhaps my favorite HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album of all as this one has most energetic deliveries. This was a surprise coming to this after the more famous albums that follow but i love this one a lot better. There are no weaknesses on this at all.

 The August Engine by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.87 | 23 ratings

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The August Engine
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Bruhfluhquannie

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, and Dead Revolution. All three albums contain technically accomplished but catchy riffing and guitar playing throughout. This album incorporates more acoustic instruments than the others I have listened to. One thing I loved about this album, in addition to the guitar playing, is the gloomy and gothic sounding male and female vocals. Highlights of the album include the transition from the heavy but incredibly catchy riffs in The August Engine (Part 1) to the acoustic track Rainfall, the solos in The August Engine (Part 2), and the doomy The Trial and the Grave. This album is actually a concept album about "a conversation between a microcosm and a macrocosm". Apparently, the album was going to originally be much larger in scope, and although it's a fantastic album in its current form, I do hope they'll someday release it in full. As it is, I think it's a very solid album with a sound that is sort of unique to Hammers of Misfortune, and I like it about as much as The Locust Years, and more than Dead Revolution. If I could give it a 4.5, I would, but I'll round up.
 Fields / Church Of Broken Glass by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.07 | 23 ratings

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Fields / Church Of Broken Glass
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What would have happened if in, say, 1975 a band decided to marry the musical complexity of Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer with the heaviness of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest? The result may have sounded very much like this double album offering by Hammers of Misfortune.

Knowing nothing about the band previously, my eye caught sight of the cover for Church of Broken Glass while sampling prog bands on Amazon. I gave the song samples the usual quick once over to see if anything caught my interest and it certainly did. There are many points worthy of praise here but also a few criticisms as well. Let's consider the strengths first.

This double album of two short (about 35 minutes each) albums is packed with the kind of intricate and complex music you'd expect from a symphonic prog band but with the heaviness of a progressive metal band that puts an organ up front. A big nod goes to multi- instrumentalist Sigrid Sheie whose organ and piano work is heavy and serious. She has classical training and plays flute as well but also has punk experience. (There's an interesting interview with her at canadaartsconnect.com). Sigrid also contributes backing vocals.

The guitar is heavy and driving but with a lot of interesting riffs and passages. This is not your typical muted-string duh-duh-duh metal. It's more like Iron Maiden but with the heavier sound of a talented 80's speed metal band.

The rhythm section holds its own, and while the bass doesn't stand out in particular, the drum work is appreciatively busy without being overdone.

The style of the music ranges from complex speed metal to slow stoner metal but always accented by that Hammond B3. There are more delicate moments too with acoustic guitar and some beautiful piano work. Musically speaking, this is a well-balanced album that defines its parameters in a comfortably broad scale without straying into "that doesn't suit the album" territory. Any classical passage or even the eastern sounds in parts of "Too Soon" don't sound out of place at all. Songs range in length from the straightforward 4:02 heavy rock of "Train" from "Church..." to the 10:19 of "Butchertown" from the same disk.

There are perhaps three strikes against the album. The first depends on how you like your modern prog to sound with respect to recording quality. Both disks capture the more unpolished sounds of an 80's metal band that didn't have major label backing or the slightly garage-like sound of some 70's recordings such as what I have heard on, say, Atomic Rooster albums. If you like this sound or if you can forget that we're talking about an album from 2008 then it's not an issue but a plus. As the band seems inclined to capture a heavy 70's atmosphere then maybe a more polished sound like that on Dream Theater, Fates Warning, or Threshold albums wouldn't work. Personally I have mixed feelings about the sound. I like it but maybe a bit cleaner would be better?

My second gripe is that some of the best songs have choruses that just repeat and repeat as the song makes a long journey to the end. "Butchertown" appealed to me because of its "Black Sabbath" (song) approach with slow, doomy and heavy chords combined with lighter acoustic parts. But the chorus repeats over and over while the music slowly climbs toward a promised climax that never really reaches release. "Motorcade" and "Rats Assembly" also have this though not as long as "Butchertown".

Finally, I have to say that the biggest disappointment is the vocal department. With male and female lead vocalists (Patrick Goodwin and Jesse Quattro) and Sigrid on backing vocals (plus an uncredited male backing vocalist) there are wonderful opportunities to combine male voices ("Motorcade"), female voices ("Rats Assembly"), and male and female voices, as well as solo vocal parts. Sadly, the production of the vocals is weak. They are treated more like a rhythm instrument than the voices of the songs. The lyrics are at times difficult to make out and the voices just another sound in the music. Additionally, neither lead vocalist comes across as particularly remarkable, though perhaps this has something to do with the production or mixing again. It seems Jesse Quattro is capable of maintaining a solo career, so maybe there's talent to speak of.

Overall the album could score five stars for the musical effort but loses on the vocals and on recording quality in general. I recommend fans of heavier symphonic prog and experimental metal to check this one out. Four stars but considered giving it three.

 17th Street by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.71 | 20 ratings

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17th Street
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Hammers of Misfortune are a band I have always liked for many reasons since 2003's "The August Engine". They fuse very strong metal riffing with inventive time sigs and some excellent keyboard work. The lyrics are a real drawcard for me as they are uplifting and thought provoking always. They have an excellent lead guitarist with John Cobbett and the organ of Sigrid Sheie is terrific. The sound reminds me of Riverside or Sky architect. The vocals of Joe Hutton are easy to understand and very well executed. Other musicians make up the soundscape including Chewy Marzolo on drums and Max Barnett on bass. Leila Abdul-Rauf is a fine guitarist and vocalist too, balancing all the male vocals. Sigrid Sheie also plays flute in places and sings. It is a grand metal sound that is generated, though the lineup has changed slightly adding extra members.

On this album "317" the title track is majestic and slow until we get to some very fast riffing on the wonderful '17th Street'. Sigrid's vocals are very noticeable and I hoped later we would hear more of her. There is a great doom metal crawling riff, so simple and effective. I loved how it just locked into a riff and kept the signature throughout and yet remained so completely compelling.

'The Grain' is a progressive ever shifting metal track with a terrific melody and very accomplished lead break. I love the riff on this just hammering along. The chorus is catchy too, though sung too often. The conclusion of this is organ shimmering over piano phrases. 'Staring (The 31st Floor)' is a short metal blaster, chopsticks piano over outbursts of distorted guitar. Nothing against Joe, but please let the girls sing for a bit and this is just non stop vocals and the melody is rather mediocre at best.

'The Day the City Died' follows with a fast tempo, and some nice time sig changes. A nice harmony between the male and female vocalists. This sounds lot like Symphony X in places. 'Romance Valley' is more fast metal to bang your head in to the wall to. Followed by soft slow meandering 'Summer Tears'. The lead break is great on this. Sigrid's sweet piano is dreamy. It has an unusual feel to this, not metal and descending chords sound like 'Phantom of the Opera' melody.

'Grey Wednesday' is next with grand doomy chord splashes, and then a fast riffing metal guitar with some massive Hammond organ. The fast tempo really woke me up after the slower material. It sounds very much like classic 80s metal in some ways, not Anthrax, Metallica or Slayer, more like anthemic power metal like Manowar, or Helloween. 'Going Somewhere' is the longest track clocking 10 minutes. The mini epic starts with piano and then a huge riff crunches in, Joe's strong vocals and some harmonies, though the ladies are silent on this except for echoing some phrases. The sig changes in a retro classic metal style. No lead break forthcoming and then another melodic riff and another verse some falsetto here too. The keyboard solos to follow are excellent though not as good as the lead break which consists of very fast hammer ons and speed picking. There is a galloping metal riff shift, and more lead breaks to end it.

"17th Street" is another solid album from underrated Hammers of Misfortune that deserve more reviews and attention.

 17th Street by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.71 | 20 ratings

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17th Street
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So far I've listened to 2 albums recorded by this formation "The Locust Years" and "Fields / Church of Broken Glass ". Both of them were filled with interesting prog-metal with surprisingly important role of Hammond organ played by female keyboardist Sigrid Sheie. Formation's 5th CD called "17th Street" it's a continuation of this trend. While I noticed that organ started to play a slightly smaller role in the music, my overall reception of this record is even better than previous stuff of Hammers of Misfortune. I just realized that after few listenings I already remember some of the melodies included here. Maybe for die-hard prog-metal aficionados it's not so important, but for such symphonic prog-rock fan like me captivating melodies are as much important as technical proficiency of musicians.

Anyway the latest "child" of Hammers of Misfortune includes 9 entertaining songs bordering between prog-metal and heavy prog genres:

1. "317" - album kick off with powerful guitar and organ riffing in this mysteriously named track. In fact I thought it will be an instrumental composition but near the end pompous, symphonic metal vocals appear. Overall it's a real introducing punch in listener's face.

2. "17th Street" - while previous track was more in Ayreon valley, this one has more in common with "traditional" progressive metal style, so lovers of Dream Theater and Symphony X should dig it (however vocals here are much lower than high-registered "shrieks" of James LaBrie). Anyway it's a rather good, fast-paced and aggressive, but not groundbreaking song.

3. "The Grain" - it's definitely the core of the album! Fantastic song, really. While it doesn't have any spectacular solos or new ideas, it has one of the most catchy melodies I've heard in prog-metal world. It's a simple and in the same time amazing composition.

4. "Staring (The 31st Floor)" - definitely the weakest song on the album. Very tiresome and bland. Lots of ultra heavy guitar layers and doom-like vocals. Almost no keyboards at all too. Waste of space on the disk...

5. "The Day the City Died" - and he's my number two after "The Grain". Another phenomenal song, very enjoyable in its simplicity. Very groovy rhythm, amazingly memorable refrain and splendid organ/acoustic piano layers. I also love that guitar here is much more in hard rock vain than metal style. To be honest "The Day the City Died" reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne's material from 80s (and as you can see from my nickname, I always liked Ozzy :-).

6. "Romance Valley" - speedy power-metal song with breathtaking electric guitar riffing and organ filling out the space. Not horribly memorable but good enough to be used as a "nice" headbanger ;-). While listening to this song I think about Japanese band Sigh and their "Gallows Pole" album.

7. "Summer Tears" - surprisingly soft song driven by classical-influenced acoustic piano (yeah, Sigrid Sheie not only blasts our ears with organ but she also can play beautiful piano passages!) and melodic vocals. And those classic-rock sounding guitar solo, ehhh...You will be shocked if you expected another stomping metal, but for me it's a great song.

8. "Grey Wednesday" - Doom metal organ blasts as from the beginning of the song, but after about 1 minute Hammers of Misfortune comes back to prog/power metal territory. Lots of crunching guitars and dirty Hammond chops make is another decent track.

9. "Going Somewhere" - and here comes an epic. It was inevitable that we will have some epics on progressive metal/rock album. Unfortunately it's not so exciting as I wished it to be. A bit too repetitive and restless rhythm doesn't let me enjoy this piece so much. However I don't say it's bad 'cos there are still many good moments, especially some speedy guitar/organ marathons.

In general I'd recommend latest album of Hammers of Misfortune to people who like progressive metal but look for something more than 10+ minutes electric guitar solos where you can hear more dazzling sounds in one second than you can even comprehend... I would say that prog-metal style presented on this album is more sophisticated and casual listener friendly.

If you prefer your prog-metal more diverse and retro-prog rooted like this, I'd also recommend you to check such formations: Ayreon, Sigh, Death Organ, Solefald or Ansur. But I think that fanboys of Dream Theater and Symphony X may also find music on "17th Street" interesting.

Best tracks: "The Grain" & "The Day the City Died"

4 stars from ozzy_tom

 The August Engine by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.87 | 23 ratings

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The August Engine
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by 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.

 The Locust Years by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.43 | 35 ratings

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The Locust Years
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by avatar

4 stars Hammers of Misfortune´s last offering is a progressive rock concept album with lots of Hammond keyboards, textures, ideas and intensity. One of the most interesting Prog Metal albums of the year.

The tragic decade of 1930s was called The Locust Years by Winston Churchill, with words from the Old Testament Book of Joel 2:25. The lyrics have clear references to the corruption and war-like environment the world is in, but they are opened to several interpretations.

How does it sound? Well: mix Emmerson, Lake & Palmer and Yngwie Malmsteen, put different voices with 70's feel, alternate lyrical moments with storms of energy, and you will have it.

An amazing CD, highly recommended.

 The Bastard by HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.95 | 17 ratings

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The Bastard
Hammers Of Misfortune Experimental/Post Metal

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars (Actually 3.5 stars)

When I first heard this band, I was thrown back to my youth when I heard metal in the 80's. I mean the straightforward, heavy metal with those riffs that made me feel so good, like I have reached home and am now in a safe place. But safe is not what this album is about; especially if you listen to the lyrics of songs such as You Should Have Slain Me or An Oath Sworn In Hell (which also happen to be my two favourite songs here). I will not bother you about the details of the story told in this theme album, but instead focus on the music itself, which is what I pay attention most. I will only say it will appeal to people who like fantasy tales.

HOM has close ties to The Lord Weird Slough Feg through its guitarist John Cobbett who founded HOM (and does the vocals as well) along with other TLWSF members - Mike Scalzi on keyboards and Sigrid Sheie who is the second vocalist. The fact that this is a concept album, does not only reflect in the story that is told in the songs, but can be figured out by the fact that there are recurrences of some sound themes throughout the album and they serve as reference points and are played a bit differently each time they are brought up.

The music - well, apart form it being based on what I view as 80's metal, it brings in a fresh and complex sound into it and makes for a very enjoyable listen, perhaps even for those not into metal music (although it will require some getting used to the more aggressive sides of the album). The guitars have a cool crunchy sound and the drumming can get very energetic and enthusiastic sounding when the tracks develop more and allow for the band's wilder side to come out. What else? Well, there are traces of Doom metal there, which can be heard on the more tortured and slow bits in some songs (Hunting Tyrant), but for those who are just afraid of this now let me calm you by saying; those are merely traces of it. You can also hear some more folk-like moments when the acoustic guitar takes over on several tracks and plays a nice and relaxed tune.

When listening to them, it is quite evident to me that they are highly skilled as musicians and I admire their ability to give a depth and complexity to what would otherwise be "plain" heavy metal (not that I dislike it; quite the contrary. But that is irrelevant here).

Another excellent trait they have is the male/female vocals that sometimes sing separately and on other occasions have a sort of duet. It is impossible for me to describe the sound of their vocals, but those are not your typical metal vocals and they are clean vocals apart for occasional distorted vocals and some screeching vocals which mean to represent other characters in the story.

But what I like most about them is that they have those tracks that as soon as they begin they make you want to move and shake your head due to their excellent rhythms. They have those catchy guitar riffs and drum sections that catch my senses and guide them about as the songs goes on. Not the most complex and amazing parts, but those are certainly the most entertaining. Just listen to those two tracks I mentioned at the opening and also the last track Sacrifice/The End and you might experience what I mean.

To sum this all up, I have to say that I don't find the songs to be all of the same level. Some are very good (like the two I mentioned in the beginning) while others are less exciting and I get a feeling of unevenness as a whole. That been said, there are no bad songs here for me; just some tracks that are less exciting than others and not up to par with the bright ideas portrayed in those songs that I think highly of. This is why I think it is a good album overall, and while not an excellent addition, it would be a pretty good addition to anyone who can appreciate a good and above average metal album. Moreover, it will probably appeal only to "metal people", especially those who like the straightforward sound of heavy metal (especially 80's metal; maybe we can all it vintage metal by now?).

I would give this album a 3.5 stars rating, but as it is impossible, I will opt for the 3 stars rating, which seems more suitable for me (even though a sense of remorse creeps up within me as I do this, but I believe this is the right thing to do).

Thanks to Bryan for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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