Hammers of Misfortune
Overtaker

Last year I reviewed the reissue of the classic debut Hammers of Misfortune album – The Bastard.  I have enjoyed their progressive brand of metal that is quite eclectic, mixing in styles ranging from Manilla Road, Fates Warning, Omen, 70’s prog rock metal to more extreme forms of death and thrash metal.  Somehow their conglomeration of all these metal forms cohesively combine to create an interesting and fascinating listening experience.

The band has been on hiatus for quite some time and their last album was the excellent Dead Revolution from 2016.  This album seemingly dropped out of nowhere as it was not something I had read about until the promo dropped and plopped into my lap. Mainman, John Cobbett [guitar/vox] sees him revamping the line-up and I would imagine with members spread out around the country this was partially the reason for the delay in new material.  Sigrid Sheie returns on keys/vocals and Jamie Myers returns to the fold, after a 16 year hiatus from HOM.  Bring in former Vektor drummer Blake Anderson and well…since I love his work in Vektor I knew that HOM would probably increase the speed on the album, based on his skill set and they sure as shit did.  Frank Chin, formerly of Vektor lays bass guitar down as well.

The title track opens without warning into chaotic and fast drum beats and keyboards all over the place.  Having both female vocalists singing on the opening track, along the keys and faster paced material, mixed with space sounds brings full circle all the weirdness that is HOM, front and center.  The song is quite catchy and with the brutality increased and the massive amounts of keys, this has some Nocturnus influence, which I very much enjoy.

“Dark Brennius” starts with some ghoulish Transylvanian stylized keys before the isolated guitar riff erupts and the song gallops with John Cobbett’s unique and amazing vocal delivery.  The drum work is quite beastly with tremendous double bass, as well as some striking drum rolls, especially early on.  John whips into a frenzied guitar solo, and the ethereal slower key moments where just vocals and keys are heard, before the rest of the music ignites, is one of the many reasons why I find HOM so mesmerizing.

“Ghost Hearts” begins atmospherically with female vocals over the guitar soloing and then the song erupts into a super-fast thrashing metal madness speed with varied vocals.  The song is catchy and creative, as well as chaotic and yes- HOM are a non-linear band.  For some, they may require repeated listens, due to the sheer abundance of musical ideas smacking you upside the head, all at once.  This is a good song with tons of ideas, and some cool bass plucking, and guitar solos taking you by the throat and punishing you from one side of the planet to the next.

“Aggressive Perfection” closes out the album and at over six minutes is the longest track on the album.  The song opens with a direction where I am like, ok where is this going?  It’s slow and brooding, something the band is indeed known for.  It seems a bit disjointed, though.  The song picks up speed and there are some killer slow downs with a variety of vocals tones.  Interesting song, but this song is really out there, in space and beyond.

Overtaker is a good Hammers of Misfortune album, but some of the tracks do not resonate with me, for instance the last song.  There are a few other instances on the album where the songs are not really catchy and missing from the album are the unique and fantastical vocals of John Cobbett.  The vocals are pretty much left to Sigrid and Jamie and while both are great, John’s vocals are what helps create catchier vocal patterns and I really miss his vocals on this new album.  I wonder if his vocals had been more prevalent on this release how the album would have maybe resonated with me more?

The music has been recorded over a period of four years and I also wonder, had the album been recorded within a year, it may have gelled better.  The production is great – and captures the unique musical patterns of Hammers of Misfortune and the musicianship is pretty darn good to boot. The album cover, looks to me like an upside down dragon head??  I don’t know what the hell is going on.  Good album, I was just expecting more.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
November 29th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jamie Myers

    FYI, John only did vocals on the bastard. Mike Scalzi did lead male vocals on albums bastard through the Locust years. He’s is on two songs on Overtaker. Jamie is doing leads. Sigrid does backup on one song. Thanks for taking the time to review it!
    -J


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