San Francisco-based Hammers of Misfortune had been on hiatus since the release of their well-acclaimed album, ‘17th Street’ (2011). In that near-half-decade, there were additions to families, motorcycle accidents, and members touring with their other bands Vhol, Vastum, and Death Angel.
And though the album was technically completed last year, primary guitarist/songwriter John Cobbett delayed the release to finish the gatefold art. Trying to hand-draw and hand-number artwork while holding a baby isn’t exactly easy.
But ‘Dead Revolution’ (2016) seems to have been well worth the wait. The album is an eclectic mix of all things heavy from 60’s psychedelia to 70’s doom and 80’s thrash, maintaining the Hammers‘ signature progressive sound.
“The Velvet Inquisition” opens with heavy riffing reminiscent to 80’s thrash bands, and later segues into psychedelia, complete with organs and multilayered vocal harmonies.
The single and the title track, “Dead Revolution,” has “Deep Purple” written all over it, from the driving keyboards to the vocal delivery and guitar work. There are even a few appearances of cowbell. It is like “Highway Star” had been revisited in the early 1980s, with newer (at the time) influences of NWOBHM and hard rock.
“Seas of Heroes” begins with a slower, chromatic intro that instantly reminded me of Death, and these sort of riffs continue to appear throughout the song. The track is like Death-meets-Scorpions-meets-Ghost (although Hammers of Misfortune pre-date the masked ghouls by many years). It is a trippy musical journey that is an amalgam of styles, and these elements continue throughout the rest of the album.
“The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…)” has more nods to Purple with the prominent keyboards and Joe Hutton’s soaring vocals, as well as Iron Maiden-esque guitar work.
“Here Comes the Sky” starts off as an acoustic ballad, with pianos and maracas complimenting the soft guitar strums. Unlike The Beatles‘ song with a similar name, it sounds more like the Fab Four’s “Because” due to its slow tempo and atmospheric vocal harmonies. Distorted guitars kick in about a third of the way into the track, layering themselves on interesting keyboard effects, creating a heavier venture into psychedelic territory. At the end, the acoustic guitars, piano, and maracas return, this time with a Latin-infused trumpet fanfare fading out.
“Flying Alone” is a headbanging track, with elements of Motorhead‘s riffs and beastly drums, as well as more Deep Purple keyboards and vocal harmonies. This is probably the song that showcases the guitar and drum work the most. It is as if the best hard rock bands of the 70’s and the best NWOBHM bands of the early and mid-80’s were thrown together into a blender.
“Days of ’49” is a doom metal song with its droning guitars and slower, melodic solos. The lyrics tell an interesting story about a “butcher boy”. The song stands out from the rest because it doesn’t have the same changes and progressions the other tracks do. At first, I was disappointed that this was the closer on such an eclectic album, but after I was left with it stuck in my head, I realized why it was placed at the end. After all, if you are not left with an impression once an album concludes, you are more likely to forget it.
‘Dead Revolution”, regardless of how you feel about particular metal subgenres, will not bore you. It takes influences from metal’s precursors like Deep Purple and The Beatles, as well as some elements of the more extreme. It is an eclectic concoction of what makes this music great, displaying adoration of both the old and new.
‘Dead Revolution’ Track Listing:
- The Velvet Inquisition
- Dead Revolution
- Sea of Heroes
- The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…)
- Here Comes the Sky
- Flying Alone
- Days of ’49
- - 8/108/10