Hammers of Misfortune – “Dead Revolution” (Metal Blade Records)
If you’re looking for the near perfect synthesis of prog and heavy metal, then San Francisco’s Hammers of Misfortune would certainly be up there in the ranks, if not topping it. Formed by guitarist John Cobbett (ex-Gwar, ex-The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Ludicra, Amber Asylum, Jarboe, Malefice (DC), VHÖL), Hammers of Misfortune is perhaps the culmination of all that experience, brought together with wife Sigrid Sheie (Amber Asylum, VHÖL) on organ, piano, vocals, flute – along with a formidable line up of ex The Worship of Silence and other Amber Asylum members. Arguably too metal for prog purists and undoubtedly so the other way around, it probably means little to Cobbett as “Dead Revolution” is easily the band’s heaviest and darkest release to date. A long time in the making, the album was delayed by some 5 years owing to children being born, vocalist John Hutton’s motorcycle accident, and Cobbett’s own hand drawn and lettered gatefold/booklet taking the best part of the year to complete (with baby in hand!). Still, there’s nothing abstract about the music whatsoever that see’s hard chugging metal riffola and Will Carroll’s (Death Angel, Vicious Rumors) hard hitting and double bass drum work set a driving, up tempo beat to songs like the magnificent 8 minute ‘The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…)‘, the Rainbow-esque organ orgasm of ‘Flying Alone’ and the psych prog paradise of ‘The Velvet Inquisition‘. Add in the bunches of organs, hippy harmonies, trippy vocals and psych vibes, not to mention pianos and flutes and “Dead Revolution” sounds like the Haight all over again, but this time with balls a plenty. Additionally, they also offer a classy, heartfelt and musically impressive cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Days of ‘49’, which deals with the 1849 Gold Rush, and beyond pertaining to the band’s hometown of San Francisco , also relates to the album’s theme of railing against so called half assed ‘revolutions’ of today. So contrary to the purists, I would say that Hammers of Misfortune’s own blend of prog and metal does indeed have a lot to offer, forged by their talented hands with pride and plenty of heart in a true revolution of their own making.