Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street (Metal Blade Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 8/10

Pledging a path unfamiliar to most in the music world, San Francisco sextet Hammers Of Misfortune align themselves to their own creative desires. For critics to pigeonhole their specific style is ludicrous. Within certain songsyou may hear progressive strains, NWOBHM, doom, folk, or thrash. John Cobbett and company since 2001 have channeled a potent sound over the course of the past five studio albums, to the benefit of ardent followers who seek solace in the band’s capable left of center arrangements and playing abilities all in the name of delivering special, individual songs.

Fresh off some re-releases of their early material with their newest label Metal Blade the band deliver their sixth studio sojourn, a nine-song exploration of shorter constructs like opener “317” and “Grey Wednesday” may blow away Hammers Of Misfortune’s long time champions. You rarely hear under four-minute tracks that still stack jaw-dropping riff after riff while the organ, bass, drums and male/ female vocals suck you in for texture and dynamic, emotional extension, while the title track uses a Thin Lizzy-meets-Big Country twin picking motif before jutting off into some heavy British metal gallops and grooves.

Fret not you epic fanatics, for the seven minute-plus “The Grain” and closing 10-minute “Going Somewhere” (where five unique song ideas meld into one mind bending lunar heavy traveling escapade) prove HoF may just be the current metal equivalent to The Beatles during their final studio only years. Chewy Marzolo’s drum chops reside between the best Clive Burr/Maiden motions and the flexibility of your best Bay Area thrash maniacs, and bassist Max Barnett isn’t strumming the simple root chords for bottom end gaps in the sound.

They make do with less than ideal studio budgets and juggling regularfull time jobs while creating albums that the majority of the metal populace will snicker or groan about. 17th Street will be one of those records that innovators, theorists, and those with integrity acclaim as their savior from general life turmoil and frustration. Well done, ladies and gentlemen.

www.hammersofmisfortune.com

(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)