|Review: Hammers Of Misfortune - The Locust Years|
|The Locust Years|
Label: Cruz Del Sur
Year released: 2006
Review online: October 24, 2010
Reviewed by: Adam Kohrman
for:The Locust Years
Rated 4/5 (80%) (15 Votes)
Hearing Mike Scalzi's voice is like home. It's comforting in an odd, relaxing way. In the same way that returning home eradicates worry from your mind, Scalzi's gnarling squeal does the same. Even if he isn't the main creative force behind the project, like on Hammers of Misfortune's third album The Locust Years (where, as always, fellow Slough Feg axeman John Cobbett handles the inspiration), hearing him wail is a calming force after a tough day at work. Once again, on The Locust Years, Hammers of Misfortune make an engaging and unclassifiable album. It's far out in left field, but undeniably HoM.
Like the previous albums, The Locust Years a collection of songs that feel loosely connected, either in sound or theme. Many of these songs are about power and how those in power treat the "common people." The album alternates between twangy distorted guitar parts fronted by Scalzi to softer, acoustic passages led by the voices of Jamie Myers and Sigrid Sheie. This is where HoM avoid the pitfalls that so many other bands fall into. These transitions from eclectic, eccentric heaviness to soothing, almost wondrous passages are never jarring or awkward. They pull it off with ease. It's this meshing together of styles, --and often styles that are already unique to Hammers of Misfortune-- that makes them such a great band.
Some of the songs on The Locust Years rank among the best of the band's career. "Trot Out the Dead" is the immediate standout, as it's catchy and straightforward. As good as it is, there is a lot of stuff going on on this album. "War Anthem" is a groovy, space rocky tune that almost sounds like Manilla Road met Pantera, with a dash of Jimi Hendrix. Then there's the complex instrumental "Election Day" with its countless crescendos and diminuendos, all backed by the album's ubiquitous but tastefully used church organ. Each song here is connected to every other song, all coalescing into one very strong and quirky album.
This may not be as powerfully enigmatic as the rest of Hammers of Misfortune's catalogue, as it becomes slightly limp or shapeless every once in a while. Though you cannot deny the prowess of the bold instrumentation and experimentation with genre.
2010 re-issue on Metal Blade Records reviewed here.
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Interview with JC on February 28, 2004 (Interviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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