Review Summary: An epic progressive doom/power/thrash/folk/heavy metal album featuring members and guests from Slough Feg, Jarboe, Wolves in the Throne Room, and GWAR.
Metal archives describes them as an elegant blend of power, progressive, folk, and doom metal. Sputnikmusic proclaims their style of music to be a mixture of black metal, hard rock, and power metal with traces of Celtic folk and eastern scales. Who is this mightily bizarre outfit that is attempting to throw everything at the listener including the kitchen sink? It is Hammers of Misfortune, a musically adventurous band that demands your attention with their grandiose and overambitious take on heavy metal. Forming in 2000, the band quickly made a name for themselves with their 2001 debut album The Bastard. An epic concept record based on a young man who’s destiny is to dethrone and slay his deadbeat father. This album was a successful fusion of extreme/classic metal with dueling male/female vocals to complement the extravagant storyline. But it is Hammer’s second album The August Engine, where they truly hit their stride. Albeit dropping the thematic concept, Hammers Of Misfortune have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
Dropping the extreme metal influence and the dozen petite head banging anthems in favor of longer, more expansive epics, Hammers of Misfortune capitalize on their musical potential and conjure a tremendous power/heavy metal album for the ages. Filled with shredding classic doom/thrash riffage, killer harmonies, and unparalleled songwriting, the only thing more intimidating then the album’s projected strengths is the bands pedigree. Led by ex Slough Feg/Amber Asylum, GWAR, /Jarboe guitarist/vocalist John Cobbet and followed swiftly by vocalist/bassist Jamie Myers (Wolves in the Throne Room), Mike Scalzi (WhipKraft and currently in Slough Feg), drummer Chewy Marzolo and keyboardist/vocalist Sigrid Sheie, this fantastic five-some will decimate your metal perception and pillage your soul….
The vocal contributions are split up between four people with guest female vocalist Lorraine Rath delivering several lines on the piano/acoustic guitar driven ditty “Rainfall”. Guitar players Mike and most prominently John sing in a Slough Feg meets 90’s grunge kind of way while Jamie Myers (Malevolent Grain and Diadem of 12 Stars) and Sigrid provide a pleasant crooning style. The vocalists effortlessly weave together when dueling/layering but excel at soloing as well.. Prime example being “Insect“. Opening with acoustic strumming, haunting female vocals soon enter before erupting into a blistering riff barrage driven by ballsy man power. Easily one of the album’s greatest tracks. Hammer Of Misfortune’s penchant for irregular vocal arrangements is a significant asset to The August Engine, providing the power and assertion of a confident band willing to take necessary risks to rise above the stagnant scene. A +
John and Mike are a tenacious guitar duo unwilling to sit down or play it safe. Although their Slough Feg influence seeps through obviously on the balls out rocker “A Room And The Middle” much less a good portion of the album, the riffing is tightly executed, always memorable and consistently heavy. However, the duo have achieved much more than mastering the power of the almighty riff. Their fondness for crafting intricate harmonies, classic metal soling, and stunning melodies result in thoroughly composed songs. And the steady integration of acoustic guitars only really improve on an already stellar formula. A
Really, the only thing left that could possibly hinder the greatness of this album would be an inconsistent or mediocre rhythm section. For anyone concerned, Hammers Of Misfortune do not suffer from lazy musicianship. Man and woman (Jamie and Chewy) adopt a successive formula without blast beats or a crushing bass tone produced by Dan Swano. The drums are quite high in the mix and provide mad rocking beats for what is sure to be a hell of a live show. The bass too isn’t shunned out in favor of guitars or vocals. Jamie solidifies herself as an efficient bassist with a modest approach in delivering grooving bass lines that according to Mens Health English edition drives the women wild. B+
Now, I know, I’ve reviewed three straight 4.5 albums but out of the trio I feel this one deserves my highest regard. Superlative songwriting, excellent musicianship, and personality set Hammers Of Misfortune apart from the modern metal scene by mixing the old with the new and the heavy with the soft. No Slough Feg clone or side project, Hammers Of Misfortune stand out on their own and will be heard by an audience.……..There is more than meets the eye.. with metal.