Monday, August 1, 2016
Album Review: Hammers of Misfortune - "Dead Revolution"
For all the constant evolution with the various genres of heavy metal, there are always bands who act as a stabilizing force, consistently producing high-level product that achieves all the appropriate benchmarks of a professional production. Hammers of Misfortune is one of those bands who fans can rely on for an honest, thoughtful production that doesn’t disappoint.
“Dead Revolution” the new album from the American metal artists sees the band going in much the same direction that they’ve always been, but there are enough new twists to interest perhaps even the most fatigued fan. That’s not to say that Hammers of Misfortune isn’t doing the same things they’ve always done so well – harmonies that are well thought out, songs sculpted with meticulous planning and riffs written to catch and inspire. Hammers of Misfortune additionally continues their trend of writing songs that are as long as they need to be (and in some cases perhaps longer,) composing a full album that features only seven cuts.
There’s plenty crammed into those seven cuts, though. “Dead Revolution” is a musical journey of a sizeable scale, living at the intersection of Judas Priest, King Crimson and the Police. Addressing the last two of those first, Hammers of Misfortune has always possessed an old-school progressive bend, in the sense that they’re not afraid to change pace and bridge wholly different sections and styles into one cohesive whole. That’s really the linchpin of everything this album stands for – that the band can write an eight-minute sojourn like “The Precipice” and end up with a selection that experiments with color and pace while still remaining artistically cohesive.
There’s a maturity that the band infuses into nearly all of their songs, which helps temper the entire experience with a sense of well-measured articulation. Even as guitars chop their way into the comparatively up tempo opening riffs of “The Velvet Inquisition” to start the album, there’s a pervasive sense that all the musicians involved are under control and pointed in the same direction.
Moreover, those same speed riffs, which we see again in the title cut lend not only some versatility into the mix for “Dead Revolution,” but also remind everyone that Hammers of Misfortune is fully capable of showing their teeth when the occasion merits. One of the strengths of this new record is that it displays a full recognition of the atmosphere it wants to craft and then employs effective solutions to make that happen. When the album needs to bite, it does, and when it needs to take the listeners on an expansive journey, it can do that, too, all within one track.
Now, longtime fans of Hammers know what’s coming next, but it bears repeating for those who might be new – listening to this full record requires a certain amount of patience, because these are long songs that aren’t, by nature, instantly accessible. It’s also worth noting that for all the metal chops the record brings to bear, this is not a party album, or even an album fit for moshing. “Dead Revolution” works best as a record taken in quiet contemplation, sort of metal-as-art, and is not the type of experience where you can jump in and out and get the full experience. So listeners may need to be in a specific mindset or of a certain taste to really enjoy the record.
In the end, “Dead Revolution” is at least an equal record to “17th Street” and in many ways may be superior. It took a long while between records to get here, but the wait has been very much worth it. This is a refreshingly professional album that is crisp and clean in a genre where those things cannot be taken for granted.