If the presence of Mike Scalzi and John Cobbet has caused you to label the Hammers Of Misfortune as a side project,then think again. Cobbet has made it abundantly clear that this band is his main concern. Indeed, if there’s any justice, ‘The August Engine’ will find this intriguing entity a fanbase outside of the Slough Feg hardcore.
The blackened squalls of ‘The Bastard’ are gone along with the arcane presentation;instead we have a thoroughly modern sounding metal album. The opening instrumental typifies this slick approach. Its an incisive chugfest bursting with the kind of riffs that Dave Mustaine forgot how to write. It segues into ‘Rainfall’,which lets be honest, is a cruddy acoustic workout that should’ve been ditched, dumped and forgotten about.
The remainder of the album is a treat. The meandering likes of ‘A Room and A Riddle’ and ‘The Doomed Parade’ will remind one (structurally if not sonically, mind) of Mercyful Fate or Opeth depending on your vintage. All told ‘The August Engine’ is sterling example of contemporary metal that shouldn’t alienate the traditionalists out there. That their sophomore outing doesn’t charm like the debut is something of a moot point.
These guys have a fiercely independent streak and do things on their own terms. Second guessing them is obviously not an option and I imagine that their next release will mark another seismic shift in style. This album deserves your attention whether or not you dig the Feg. Do yourself a favour and take the risk.
4 / 5 - Anthony McGee ::: 11/04/04