Hammers of Misfortune were founded by guitarist John Cobbett over a decade ago and in that time have built themselves a reputation for producing experimental music and thought provoking concept albums. Comparable to few bands except maybe Slough Feg (with who they have swapped and shared band members over the years) due to their genre hopping style which touches on prog, doom, NWOBHM, basically you name it and Hammers of Misfortune have probably tried it! 17th Street is their fifth studio album and it continues to reinforce the band’s position a pure classic when it comes to underground metal.
This is most definitely a guitar album, there is a clear feeling that each track has been built around the guitars, from the slow and sludgy in 317 to the escalating solo’s in The Day The City Died. Added to the intense guitar work are the contrasting male and female vocals from Joe Hutton and Jesse Quattro which give a sense of choral arrangement as opposed to a metal band.
This album is full of brilliant moments and works best when listened to as a whole. The melodic and lyrical themes feed into one another, twisting and turning from one track to the next weaving a web which captures the listener and holds you captive ensuring that there is no escape until the story is told. The themes throughout the tracks are on economic decline, recession, political corruption yet even with such a heavy topic load this album still manages to be enjoyable.
17th Street is a carefully crafted album with precision arrangements and vocals. In a time when most metal is about speed and intensity, Hammers of Misfortune have produced an album which delivers a taste of the progressive mixed with a taste of doom. This is precision metal, well produced, well executed and a pure pleasure to listen to.
This review was originally written for Alternative Matter, a site which has now closed down.