Hammers of Misfortune – Dead Revolution (Metal Blade)

Monday, 29th August 2016
Rating: 8/10

Perhaps a bit too hip for the so-called “hip,” Hammers of Misfortune have long been a band only us fair-minded critics could love. Their odd, if not quirky take on proto metal of the ‘70s, coupled with dueling male/female vocal action and a lyrical bent like no other, have netted the Bay Area troupe enough of a reputation to snag a deal with Metal Blade come 2011’s rather cool 17th Street. Five years and the insertion of Death Angel drummer Will Carroll later, Hammers return with Dead Revolution, which is neck-and-neck with its predecessor.

Lots to these songs, and we’re not thinking of meat, either. Instead, Hammers have this unique tendency to back load their songs with some hearty riff take-off, some that are crunchy (see: “The Velvet Inquisition”), others a bit more cloaked in mystique (“Sea of Heroes”). Main dude John Cobbett seemingly is never at a loss for such ideas, and when thrust between his and Sigrid Sheie and Leila Abdul-Rauf’s vocals, there’s a wide palette in which to nose around on, in particular the closing “Days of ’49,” a vamping, swaying, flailing bit that ranks among the band’s more adventurous jaunts of late.

And yeah, there are rockers with organs, like “The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…),” or a Motorhead blitzkrieg in the form of “Flying Alone,” so really, it’s another case of pick your poison with Hammers of Misfortune. That’s pretty much been the band’s modus operandi since 2003’s charm-the-pants-off-of-you The August Engine, which serves as the band’s creative breakout. Dead Revolution, though, is a robust listen, yanked right from the devious creative mind of Cobbett, a man whose songwriting acumen is not to be underestimated.

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