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Hammers Of Misfortune - Overtaker

Hammers Of Misfortune
by Andrew Harvey at 25 January 2023, 5:42 AM

HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE are a four piece band from the USA who were originally a band under the name of UNHOLY CADAVER from 1995 till 2000, after 2000 their new name was first used as they released their debut album titled THE BASTARD as JOHN COBBETT was their singer even back then and still is to this day. After the success of their debut album came two more albums, THE AUGUST ENGINE in 2003 and THE LOCUST YEARS in 2006 both of which did very well. JOHN COBBETT led the band along with guitarist MIKE SCALZI, bassist JANIS TANAKA and CHEWY on drums as this lineup featured on their first two albums. However before their third album came out, two new members joined, SIGRID SHEIE on keys/vocals and JAMIE MYERS on bass guitar/vocals as JANIS TANAKA had left by this stage.

Their fourth album was titled FIELDS/CHURCH OF BROKEN GLASS which was released in 2008, only two years after their third album, which also featured PATRICK GOODWIN and JESSE QUATTRO both on additional vocals plus RON NICHOLS on bass guitar. This was followed on by two more albums, the sixth album titled 17TH STREET came next as it featured MAX BARNETT on bass guitar, LEILA ABDUL-RAUF on extra guitar/vocals and JOE HUTTON also on additional vocals. DEAD REVOLUTION was their seventh full length album in 2016 and featured very much the same lineup as before aside from PAUL WALKER on bass guitar and WILL CARROL on drums being the additional members. Now the progressive headbangers are back again after a six year gap since their seventh album, their eighth album believe it or not titled OVERTAKER which also brings in new member BLAKE ANDERSON on drums, percussion and even playing timpani.

“Overtaker” is the starting track as we hear the progressive elements as guitar and drums carry the momentum, vocals do sing over everything as there is such an operatic approach, we even hear more percussive sounds as well as everything else. Glittering guitar fluctuates more and more as drums become more solo oriented before a quickened passage of musicality, there isn’t much more to this track as we head into the next track which is  “Dark Brennius”. There are keyboard sounds lurking about this haunting and occult soundscape for an intro and then sharp vocals are straight into the mix with drums or guitar in the firing line as they raise the tension to new heights. Those vocal are very unusual as they are a combination of progressive and maybe gothic as well as we hear female vocals in the mix with eccentric guitar riffs plus keyboards.

The continuity and consistency is admirable and vocals take a breather to allow guitars and keyboards to overtake the narrative, before vocals return even with a stunning guitar then another pause short and sweet. Very much another streak of unstoppable elements of progressive rock as we head into the next track which is “Vipers Cross” as we hear solo styled guitar and drums together as one musical medley of similar themes as the previous track. The vocals follow the somewhat ascending range of high range notation as it follows the rhythm of guitars and drums as well, there is a short instrumental section without vocals to look out for. Choral chants can be heard but very quietly as the instrumental insomnia continues on, as we head into the next track, “Don’t Follow The Lights” as we hear symphonic gestures at first with percussive hits along the way.

This carries on until we receive the full blown band unison of all instruments and vocals as they run on the same rhythm as guitars and drums as we hear more of female vocals this time. Electric guitar can certainly be heard with it’s riveting riffs as keyboards also take time to be played as we come to the next track after more striking instrumental flows of righteousness. Straight into “Ghost Hearts” which has electric guitar picking notes fast and vocals speak in a rather unusual manner, before drums kick in to crash and burn to ignite the heart of experimental sounds of guitar. There is not much different in this track either as we hear theme and influences that are not stranger to our ears. “Outside Our Minds” has guitar gearing up for drums playing softly to come in for light guitar picking alongside, then drums roll on for female vocals to join the mix.

Drums vary from plain simple even patterns and more thrash like rhythms that are quicker, as female vocals are accompanied by electric guitar for safe passage, the repeat of guitar picking is heard and female vocals are dominant throughout. Drums are are being used as a compass for guitar and female vocals to guide them along as the track certainly sets the bar high as we go into the next track which is “The Raven’s Bell”. This track is short like one or two previous tracks at three and a half minutes long, as we hear cymbal hits accenting notes with female vocals taking the lead as before as drums is the key motivator in driving the track. Much later on keyboards makes a section stand out as bass guitar can be heard plucking away before female vocals returns.

“Orbweaver” is up next as we hear more drum solo extravaganza in the progressive approach as female vocals create the transitions for electric guitar and keyboards to follow along. Each individual instrument can certainly be heard, well just enough as drums tends to mask guitar at times, but this is done in the way a progressive track would sound. Piano is played much later on with female vocals giving a mellow tone but with some tingly notes higher in pitch, but then drums reverts the track back to commotion of a full band unison. “Overthrower” merely continues on from where the previous track goes from, another mix of drums, guitars and even male vocals are in there but the female vocals do still lead y example.

Even halfway through the track, everything is still going at full pace and there is no sign of any instrument letting go of the rage and fire of ongoing chaos. Another short section for keyboards to stand tall and then a repeat of what the track has been about, crazy progressive rock ‘n’ roll. “Aggressive Perfection” has a more steady and staccato rhythm with drums leading from the front with guitars surrounding it as female vocals do come in eventually. More of a sway rhythm and with tempo it certainly works with the progressive rock style this band is well used to playing. Female vocals are so powerful and fantastic, but then the tempo or rhythm changes back to the more familiar tempo the album has taken as we come to a close with this album.

Overall the album is good for sure it is certainly very different to what they have produced in the past, of course most bands will always go this route and well most of the tracks did follow the same rhythm or tempo. I suppose this was expected at first but I guess the band didn’t want to just give another of slower rock ballads, but not have a mix of slow and faster tracks. This basically one rollercoaster of an album, from one track to another and there really isn’t any pit stops for a gasp of air or time to reminisce, so be prepared for one hell of a ride. This album is intense and it will literally go from start to finish fairly quickly, as all instrument are on cruise control, the energy and commitment of these guys is very high standard.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Overtaker
2. Dark Brennius
3. Vipers Cross
4. Don’t Follow The Lights
5. Ghost Hearts
6. Outside Our Minds
7. The Raven’s Bell
8. Orbweaver
9. Overthrower
10. Aggressive Perfection
John Cobbett - Vocals and Guitars
Jamie Myers - Bass Guitar and Vocals
Sigrid Sheie - Keyboards and Vocals
Blake Anderson - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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