Five years after the last one, here’s a cracker

In recent years, the whole prog metal thing has got a bit odd, hasn’t it? You used to know where you were. There were bands writing lengthy complicated metal songs and it was ace.

Then, somewhere along the line – and perhaps this is just another sign of MV getting old – prog metal became a load of kids shouting and growling lyrics.

But then maybe, just maybe, Hammers Of Misfortune main man John Cobbett is of the same opinion, because on “Dead Revolution” there is a definite feel of going back to basics if you will, of pulling things back so that the seven songs here actually sound like they are a mix of prog and metal.

They are more than that too. Indeed, on this the bands first album for five years (it should have emerged last year but there was a delay getting the sleeve right, apparently) there appears to be a real intent to make something accessible, catchy, but also challenging. Certainly opener “The Velvet Inquisition” sets down its marker. There’s a chugging metal riff to kick things off, but there’s also a middle section which owes more to Deep Purple. The wonderful organ work of Sigrid Sheie is a feature here throughout, and the twin Lizzy type solo that lifts things up to another level.

“Dead Revolution’s” best moment – arguably, it’s all superb – is the title track. A NWOBHM riff, brilliant keyboard work (again) and Joe Hutton’s vocals all mesh superbly with Will Carroll’s drums. In fairness, though, the almost doomy slam mixed with harmony vocals masterpiece “Sea Of Heroes” runs it close.

And where this album really scores big bonus points is that it never outstays its welcome. Whereas some bands of this type are more concerned with writing the next twenty-minute epic than writing something enjoyable, here – and at all times too, no matter what tangents it finds – the song is key. Which is why, even the longest, like “The Precipice (Waiting On The Crash)”, with its evocative, poetic haunting lyrics, always manage to hold the attention.

The lyrics are personal to Cobbett, and his reluctance to talk about them means their meanings are hidden very well, so we can only speculate what “Here Comes The Sky” means. We can say for sure, though, that it spins in Pink Floyd’s orbit and occupies a dreamy state without a care in the world.

There are occasions on “….Misfortune” when everyone concerned just appears to be having a rollicking good time, no mean feat when it can sometimes be levelled at Prog Metal that it is a little po-faced (but then Cobbett counts GWAR amongst the bands he’s worked with) and “Flying Alone” really lets its hair down and soars.

It even ends with Bob Dylan cover. And “Days Of 49” never sounded like this before, but its indicative of two things: first the try anything attitude that this record possesses, and second the fact that whatever it tries works superbly.

Rating 9/10

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