Full of life
dB rating: 9/10
Release Date: July 22nd, 2016
Label: Metal Blade
Metal has a long history of bands and albums that soar on the strength of a singular virtue. This is true of many forms of music, of course; if you have an abundance of power, heroic chops or are an ace songwriter, your attributes in that area can conceal glaring deficiencies in others. It’s getting more difficult well into the 21st century to take that approach (although Nails certainly did it on their 10/10 album this year) when bands like Hammers of Misfortune cover every musical base and then some. Their latest album Dead Revolution, the follow-up to the also excellent 17th Street, has everything you could want from good music: next level musical chops, brilliant songwriting, soaring vocals and memorable hooks. If you want to know where metal is headed in the next quarter century, as well as what makes metal timeless, you’d be well-served listening.
Hammers has always worked because it features the best Bay Area musicians. Some of John Cobbett’s past collaborators have included Jamie Myers of Sabbath Assembly and Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi. Dead Revolution has an all-star cast including Will Carroll of Death Angel on drums; Cobbett’s longterm musical and life partner Sigrid Sheie on keys; guitar wizard Leila Abdul-Rauf and vocalist Joe Hutton. Bringing talent together is no guarantee of success but the way Hammers create intricate yet heartbreaking music together is impressive. The opener, “The Velvet Inquisition,” is a primer on their approach: Sheie’s keyboard both locks in and dances around riffs and Cobbett and Abdul-Rauf share guitar heroics. “The Precipice” combines proggy Yes chops with a Zeppelin gallop and harmonized vocals into an unforgettable song that could slot in on classic radio.
Dead Revolution is an album with an abundance of richness, an album that rewards on the first listen and rewards further on closer inspection. It is the best thing a record can be: a work of startling complexity and originality that is also utterly moving and completely accessible.
— Justin M. Norton
This review taken from the September 2016 issue.