Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street

So far I’ve listened to 2 albums recorded by this formation “The Locust Years” and “Fields / Church of Broken Glass “. Both of them were filled with interesting prog-metal with surprisingly important role of Hammond organ played by female keyboardist Sigrid Sheie.
Formation’s 5th CD called “17th Street” it’s a continuation of this trend. While I noticed that organ started to play a slightly smaller role in the music, my overall reception of this record is even better than previous stuff of Hammers of Misfortune. I just realized that after few listenings I already remember some of the melodies included here. Maybe for die-hard prog-metal aficionados it’s not so important, but for such symphonic prog-rock fan like me captivating melodies are as much important as technical proficiency of musicians.

Anyway the latest “child” of Hammers of Misfortune includes 9 entertaining songs bordering between prog-metal and heavy prog genres:

1. “317″ – album kick off with powerful guitar and organ riffing in this mysteriously named track. In fact I thought it will be an instrumental composition but near the end pompous, symphonic metal vocals appear. Overall it’s a real introducing punch in listener’s face.

2. “17th Street” – while previous track was more in Ayreon valley, this one has more in common with “traditional” progressive metal style, so lovers of Dream Theater and Symphony X should dig it (however vocals here are much lower than high-registered “shrieks” of James LaBrie). Anyway it’s a rather good, fast-paced and aggressive, but not groundbreaking song.

3. “The Grain” – it’s definitely the core of the album! Fantastic song, really. While it doesn’t have any spectacular solos or new ideas, it has one of the most catchy melodies I’ve heard in prog-metal world. It’s a simple and in the same time amazing composition.

4. “Staring (The 31st Floor)” – definitely the weakest song on the album. Very tiresome and bland. Lots of ultra heavy guitar layers and doom-like vocals. Almost no keyboards at all too. Waste of space on the disk…

5. “The Day the City Died” – and he’s my number two after “The Grain”. Another phenomenal song, very enjoyable in its simplicity. Very groovy rhythm, amazingly memorable refrain and splendid organ/acoustic piano layers. I also love that guitar here is much more in hard rock vain than metal style. To be honest “The Day the City Died” reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne’s material from 80s.

6. “Romance Valley” – speedy power-metal song with breathtaking electric guitar riffing and organ filling out the space. Not horribly memorable but good enough to be used as a “nice” headbanger ;-) . While listening to this song I think about Japanese band Sigh and their “Gallows Pole” album.

7. “Summer Tears” – surprisingly soft song driven by classical-influenced acoustic piano (yeah, Sigrid Sheie not only blasts our ears with organ but she also can play beautiful piano passages!) and melodic vocals. And those classic-rock sounding guitar solo, ehhh…You will be shocked if you expected another stomping metal, but for me it’s a great song.

8. “Grey Wednesday” – Doom metal organ blasts as from the beginning of the song, but after about 1 minute Hammers of Misfortune comes back to prog/power metal territory. Lots of crunching guitars and dirty Hammond chops make is another decent track.

9. “Going Somewhere” – and here comes an epic. It was inevitable that we will have some epics on progressive metal/rock album. Unfortunately it’s not so exciting as I wished it to be. A bit too repetitive and restless rhythm doesn’t let me enjoy this piece so much. However I don’t say it’s bad ‘cos there are still many good moments, especially some speedy guitar/organ marathons.

In general I’d recommend latest album of Hammers of Misfortune to people who like progressive metal but look for something more than 10+ minutes electric guitar solos where you can hear more dazzling sounds in one second than you can even comprehend… I would say that prog-metal style presented on this album is more sophisticated and casual listener friendly.

If you prefer your prog-metal more diverse and retro-prog rooted like this, I’d also recommend you to check such formations: Ayreon, Sigh, Death Organ, Solefald or Ansur. But I think that fanboys of Dream Theater and Symphony X may also find music on “17th Street” interesting.

Best tracks:  “The Grain” & “The Day the City Died”

Track List:

1. 317 (3:39)
2. 17th Street (4:41)
3. The Grain (7:14)
4. Staring (The 31st Floor) (3:47)
5. The Day the City Died (4:30)
6. Romance Valley (5:19)
7. Summer Tears (6:37)
8. Grey Wednesday (3:58)
9. Going Somewhere (10:05)


*John Cobbett / guitar
*Chewy Marzolo / drums
*Sigrid Sheie / organ, piano, vocals, flute
*Leila Abdul-Rauf / guitar, vocals
*Joe Hutton / vocals
*Max Barnett / bass




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  1. skippy

    October 24, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    might want to check that line up again.

    • Tomasz

      October 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm

      to be honest I’m not 100% sure about this line-up, if you have some more precise information please let me know

  2. Tomasz

    October 28, 2011 at 12:36 am

    OK, I’ve updated line-up. Now should be correct.

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