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9.10.11

Hammers Of Misfortune - '17th Street' (metalblade) 3.5/5

No, not a reflection on the current form of West Ham United, Hammers of Misfortune are a Californian prog metal outfit and this is their fifth studio release.

Now I gotta say I'm finding this one interesting rather than mind blowing. The metal side here is very restrained, coming over a bit like some of those lighter weight NWOBHM outfits such as Limelight, Stampede and Jaguar; that's not to say that its a bad thing, after all I am a huge fan of the NWOBHM (after all I was there!!), but in the context of a wanna be classic progressive metal album it does come over a little on the restrained side and doesn't really give the huge impact this type of music demands. The progressive side is also a little short of the mark, whilst there are some nice snatches of folky moments and some rather cool keyboard lead sections, the keys themselves are all to often lost in the mix and loose impact.

All this is a shame, because there is a lot of good stuff going on here, the song writing is first rate with some fairly deep and insightful lyrics on offer. The musicianship is also top draw; vocalist Joe Hutton has a cracking voice, powerful, deep and menacing without resorting to the old cliched pig grunts and power wails, the guitars of Leila Abdul Rauf and John Cobbett are slick, smooth and slice through the sound like expertly wielded katanas. Add in a tight and driven rhythm section and some impressive keyboards (when you can hear them) and you have in HoM a band that could be be great. In fact after a few play throughs I'm beginning to put the lack of 'ummph' down to indifferent production, rather than the band themselves.

To select a few of the gems on offer, we have Summer Tears - a track that reminds me of some of Crash Street Kids more sleazy moments, the epic closer Going Somewhere with its grinding riffage inter-cut with some lovely jiggy proggy moments that are pure Thin Lizzy, and what is in my mind the best cut on offer The Day The City Died, a corking little track that reminds me a little of the great Magnum.

However it all comes back to the production, this album could do with a good remix to make the metal bits a tad more brutal, and the proggy bits a bit more epic, then we would have an album worthy of the band HoM undoubtedly are, cos as it is this record remains a good, but flawed gem.

for fans of... Magnum, Awake, Stampede, Y&T etc....

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