|Review: Hanker - The Dead Ringer|
|The Dead Ringer|
Year released: 1997
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: November 10, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:The Dead Ringer
Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (20 Votes)
This is by far my favorite Hanker CD, and is really very different from their more recent output. This album was their second full-length effort, and is made from a mold and a style that the band has never returned to, and more is the pity.
"The Dead Ringer" is far more idiosyncratic, progressive, and weird than anything the band has recorded since. On "Snakes And Ladders" and "Web Of Faith" Hanker have moved into a more accessible, Gamma Ray kind of style, with more anthemic choruses and simpler riffing. But "The Dead Ringer" sparkles with unique and oddball riffing and complex song structures that more strongly recall great US Metal of the past like Fates Warning or Sacred Oath. That said, this is certainly a more involved and inaccessible album than fans of later works may favor, and in fact is one of the hardest albums to get into I have encountered. This is an album you have to really listen to. Just playing it in the background will not do, you have to turn it up and pay close attention to it and not do anything else. If you do, you will find yourself smiling with delight, wondering how you missed this band. I would liken "The Dead Ringer" to other cult masterpieces like "Awaken The Guardian" or Manilla Road's "Mystification". It really takes work to appreciate it, but once you do, there is nothing finer.
Hanker do not get the credit for being good lyricists that they deserve, but if you doubt it, just check this album out. "The Dead Ringer" is a sort of concept album about a hunchback-type character. It's very bleak and depressing actually, but it uses a simple storyline to comment on bigger questions of life with brilliant effect. This is a dense, intelligent album that is just one of those accidents of genius: nobody else will ever sound like this, and even the band themselves will never return to this particular well. It just happened, and lucky for us it happened in a studio. Any fan of odd underground metal should get this, as this is an unappreciated classic. Singular, affecting, strange, and entertaining. Highly Recommended.
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