When West Coast progressive heavy metallers Hammers of Misfortune are asked what took so long to follow-up 2011's acclaimed 17th Street, principal songwriter and guitarist John Cobbett is likely to throw out a John Lennon lyric, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Though he's had Hammers of Misfortune on the brain for a good five years, life is exactly what's halted Cobbett and company from marching forward on what would turn into the group's sixth full-length, Dead Revolution.
As for differences between Dead Revolution and its predecessor 17th Street, Cobbett says it's more varied, using different tones. The mainman also thinks it's a darker and heavier effort. If trends and opinions are anything to go by, it would appear Hammers of Misfortune are sliding slowly into, well, darker and heavier territory. 17th Street, by comparison, was fiercer than Fields / Church of Broken Glass. Likewise, Dead Revolution eats its forebear 17th Street for proverbial breakfast. To wit, there's no power ballad ("Summer Tears") on Hammers of Misfortune's newest.
Then again, with tracks like the awesome "Sea of Heroes," the stupendous "The Precipice," the raging "Flying Alone," and the title track's riff-organ fest, fans expecting a continuation or expansion of "Summer Tears" will be placated by a more musically active Hammers of Misfortune. That's not to say Dead Revolution is without its slow-burners. "Here Comes the Sky" pivots off a Pink Floyd axis (think "A Pillow in the Wind") - with its soft strums, careful vocal interplay, and delicate percussion - before jettisoning into traditional heavy metal motifs. Dead Revolution's no musical slouch, that's for sure.
To realize Dead Revolution, Hammers of Misfortune altered the studio and studio personnel. Whereas previous efforts - going all the way back to 2001's The Bastard - were handled by engineer Justin Weis, this time around the group enlisted Nick Dumitriu (Vhöl, Ritual Chamber) to control the sound. The result is a warm, sharp sound that harkens back to productions like John Leckie's treatment of Pink Floyd's Meddle or David Hitchcock's master work in Camel's Mirage.