Album Review: Hammers of Misfortune – Overtaker

Band: Hammers of Misfortune | Album: Overtaker | Genre: Progressive metal, Thrash metal | Year: 2022

From: San Francisco, USA | Label: Independent

For fans of: Detente, Voivod, Droid


Hammers of Misfortune is a progressive thrash four-piece currently based somewhere out of Montana. Every source outside of their Bandcamp listed their location as San Francisco, but Bandcamp said they’re based in Montana. So I’m guessing a relocation occurred somewhat recently.

Geographical unclarity aside, they’ve got a distinctive sound. Female-fronted acts outside of power and traditional metal are somewhat rare, and this band is quite keys-forward, especially for a thrash band. The vocals remind me a lot of Detente, and the rich synths and organs could fit in perfectly with any classic prog band. The riffs are fast and complex, though, and the music overall is uncompromising.

Overtaker opens on its title track. Sweeping Mellotron complements the jittery, anxious guitar line. The song shifts between haunting, pummeling, and contemplative. This track, like most of the rest of the album, is concise, with no wasted notes. Twisted, complex riffs are packed in densely without feeling overcrowded.

“Dark Brennius” is a galloping powerhouse that features some glittering keys that would be right at home on an early Deep Purple album. The solo on this track is a furious, swirling maelstrom, and the rapid oscillations between slow and fast passages are exhilarating.

“Vipers Cross” features some fun Baroque vocal and keyboard passages amid furious guitar riffs. This cut also features some of the album’s most explicitly interstellar synthesizer solos.In contrast, “Don’t Follow the Lights” opens on a slow note, with acoustic guitar and dreamy synth pads leading things off. Punk-influenced aggression soon supplants this idyll. The acoustic opening is reincorporated during the song’s midsection in a satisfying way that blends this gentle moment with metal.

A sinister drone and swirling guitar arpeggio kicks off “Ghost Hearts”.This cut is full of this album’s expected guitar theatrics; it’s an immensely fun trip with lots of satisfying little surprises. “Outside Our Minds”, meanwhile, opens in a way that one would expect from Dark Angel. Acoustic guitar arpeggios intercut with edgy electric riffs, and the verses are muscular and powerful.

“The Raven’s Bell” prominently features flashy, neoclassical riffage and an ELP-inspired bridge.The bridge of “Orbweaver” is the mellowest moment on the album, but the rest of the song keeps pace with Overtaker’s usual breakneck pace.

Overtaker ends with its longest song, “Aggressive Perfection”. The opening guitar passage is slow and groovy. It channels Pantera (a band I’m honestly not a fan of) and blends it with eerie keyboard effects.Once this song gets going, it synthesizes all the album’s best tendencies, with blistering riffs, technical solos, and rich keyboard passages.

The latest release from Hammers of Misfortune is an impactful, powerful release. The riffs are tight, fiery, and fun. I love the way this band has expanded the usual textural scope of thrash metal to include layered keyboard effects. If you’re looking for something aggressive and creative that holds up over multiple listens, this is for you.

Score: 90/100

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