San Francisco's masters of crushing and epic power/black metal return with their 2nd lp The August Engine.

    Ready for some harmonies and heaviness? Pure, prog-tastic METAL for the long, dark winter? We know you are, 'cause it's been a long while. But now, it's here. The Hammers come down for the second time with this long-awaited new album, the follow-up to their acclaimed debut The Bastard released on tUMULt back in 2001. Whereas The Bastard was a full-on rock opera, The August Engine only *sounds* like a rock opera, it isn't actually one. There's no narrative, unifying concept to the songs this time, which puts HoM's eclectic metal mixture in danger of losing focus, being too unpredictably psychedelic and epic for their own good. Wait, what are we saying? That's no problem!

    As diverse as their songwriting and sonic palette can be, everything here sounds like Hammers and nothing else (well, except Slough Feg, since two of the hammers are also in Slough Feg), which can only be the mark of a brilliant band. Bursting out of the gates with an adrenalized instrumental opener that thrashes like Megadeth while remaining as gloriously 'classical' and over the top as anything on The Bastard, we can't say The August Engine never lets up. It does, but only in the sense that some decidedly unusual, and sometimes mellow avenues are explored. But for every non-metallic moment of sweet singing and pleasant acoustic guitars, you get plenty of shredding electric ones, with pounding drums, dramatic male and female vocals on a grand scale, and headbanging riffage. Advanced metal mastery here folks. Pretentious? Indulgent? Arrogant? No, simply mighty. The 10-out-of-10 review this album has already garnered from veteran metal scribe Martin Popoff likened them to a psychedelic version of the best of Iron Maiden, who are we to argue?

    Hammers still consist of John and Mike from The Lord Weird Slough Feg, plus drummer Chewy. On this recording, Janis Tanaka plays bass and sings like an angel, though when you go see Hammers live now, they have a new lineup including not only a foxy new bassist/singer but another female vocalist who plays Hammond organ as well!

    The vinyl (the cd is on Italian label Cruz Del Sur) is packaged in a gorgoeus chipboard sleeve, with cool Voivod-ish liner art by mastermind John Cobbett himself.

    And as always...Majestic, melancholic, virtuosic, dramatic, riffic, EPIC.

    Bizarre, baroque, proud, masterful, and true metal.




August Engine reviews
Some pictures of the individual Hammers Of Misfortune
The Lord Weird Slough Feg website
Hammers Of Misfortune website
Hammers Of Misfortune at MP3.com
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