By Andy Osborn. After five long years, the wait is over. Hammers of Misfortune, the most singular purveyors of American proggy heavy metal are back with Dead Revolution. As is their wont, they are unsurprisingly sporting another lineup change - this time with an all-new rhythm sectionBy Andy Osborn.
[In 2014 Hammers of Misfortune made their non-Metal Blade discography available on Bandcamp. In the Sundays of Misfortune series Andy Osborn guided you through all of it. Since then Metal Blade has opened a Bandcamp page, and in this installment of the series, Andy reviews Hammers of Misfortune's new album Dead Revolution. Here's to hoping it won't take another 5 years before it's time for another Sunday of Misfortune.]
|Cover art by Robert Steven Connett|
After five long years, the wait is over. Hammers of Misfortune, the most singular purveyors of American proggy heavy metal are back with Dead Revolution. As is their wont, they are unsurprisingly sporting another lineup change - this time with an all-new rhythm section, one half of that being Will Carroll of Death Angel fame. A long break, with new members and lots of lived life (and near-death) in-between can only mean one thing; there is no way to even begin to guess what this thing is going to sound like. Their last two efforts were both a bit out of left field so it wouldn’t be surprising if this album took another turn to the unknown.
But in a what’s a wonderful surprise to me (and many other fans, I’m sure), the style fits closely with their sound from a decade ago, sounding like a fitting end to a trilogy started by The August Engine and The Locust Years. It's fast and furious, picking up the pace from walking speed to a high octane diesel. From the first note you can hear the new urgency and excitement in this form of Hammers. The quick, mighty riff is back as the band throws it all into high gear, re-introducing themselves once again.
"Velvet Inquisition" introduces things with no fewer than three guitar solos and some brilliant organ counterpoint. Next up, "Dead Revolution" sits near the top of the hammers Discography, a strong contender in the fight for the best-penned song in their history. From the glorious mutating riff at its forefront, the untouchable chorus, and even that stupidly awesome cowbell, it throws punches impossible to dodge, deftly dropping jaws.
It’s also the best sounding Hammers record. The organic, mellow production gives everyone the space and sound they deserve. Joe Hutton’s sultry voice sounds sharper - due either to a new approach or some smart equalization - so he sounds a bit different than our introduction to him on 17th Street. But it works. He also shares more duties with Sigrid, making the album sound more like a team effort. They all just work together, and it feels like a true collaboration from a cohesive group - something they haven't accomplished in a long while. And the natural yet beefy drums are something that even Mikael Akerfeldt and Fenriz could agree sounds outstanding.
The band has appeared to expand their influences, too. And as is their expectedly unexpected way, it appears they’ve gone the Spaghetti Western route. The Americana acoustic guitar and trumpet on "Here Comes The Sky," hint at this, but they really go for something new on closer "Days of ‘49." An ode to the gold rush era, Hutton pulls out a prospector’s drawl as he croons his way through tales of gamblers and outlaws. It’s a risky way to end an album, but the payoff is huge.
It excites me to say that my favorite flavor of Hammers of Misfortune is back and stronger than ever. They're once again sounding like a cohesive unit, and it comes across in droves in the exciting, thunderous tracks. There's plenty of new elements and experimentation to be found, though, and even through massive lineup changes and 15 years they prove there is no one else quite like them.