Hammers of Misfortune

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Lord Weird Slough Feg: The Lord Weird Slough Feg (1996) , 5/10
Lord Weird Slough Feg: Twilight Of The Idols (1999), 6/10
Lord Weird Slough Feg: Down Among The Deadmen (2000), 6/10
Lord Weird Slough Feg: Traveller (2003) , 6.5/10
Lord Weird Slough Feg: Atavism (2005), 6/10
Lord Weird Slough Feg: Hardworlder (2007), 6/10
Hammers of Misfortune: The Bastard (2001), 6/10
Hammers of Misfortune: The August Engine (2003) , 6.5/10
Hammers of Misfortune: The Locust Years (2006), 6.5/10
Hammers of Misfortune: Fields/Church of Broken Glass (2008), 5/10
Hammers of Misfortune: 17th Street (2011), 4.5/10
Hammers of Misfortune: Dead Revolution (2016), 4.5/10
Ludicra: Hollow Psalms (2002), 6/10
Ludicra: Another Great Love Song (2004) , 5/10
Ludicra: Fex Urbis Lex Orbis (2006) , 5/10
Ludicra: The Tenant (2010) , 4/10
Slough Feg: Ape Uprising (2009), 4.5/10
Slough Feg: The Animal Spirits (2010), 5/10
Slough Feg: Digital Resistance (2014), 4.5/10
Slough Feg: New Organon (2019), 4/10

John Cobbett was the anchor for a few "retro-metal" groups based in San Francisco. The Lord Weird Slough Feg, fronted by metal baritone Mike Scalzi, harked back to the "heroic" style of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden on the mini-album The Lord Weird Slough Feg (1996) and the Celtic concept Twilight Of The Idols (1999), perfecting it into their own moderate, melodic format on Down Among The Deadmen (2000), with Warriors Dawn. The sci-fi concept Traveller (2003) and Atavism (2005) were old-fashioned but formally impeccable. Hardworlder (2007), with Angelo Tringali of Cold Mourning replacing John Cobbett, sounded (more than ever) like a tribute to the hard rock of the 1970s, excelling in the lengthy instrumental Galactic Nomad.

The Unholy Cadaver recorded one session in 1997 that would be released only 14 years later on Unholy Cadaver (Shadow Kingdom, 2011), containing the 15-minute Hammers Of Misfortune. That became the new name of the band. The Hammers of Misfortune harked back to keyboards-based prog-metal with the rock opera The Bastard (2001), featuring the dueling male-female vocals of The Lord Weird Slough Feg's vocalist Mike Scalzi and Stone Fox's bassist Janis Tanaka. After the elegant The August Engine (2003) and the sociopolitical The Locust Years (2006), they replaced Scalzi with Patrick Goodwin and incorporated vocalist Jesse Quattro and keyboardist Sigrid Sheie for the double album Fields/Church of Broken Glass (2008), maintaining a political stance, a predilection for operatic tones and the male-female counterpoint. Later albums were 17th Street (2011) and Dead Revolution (2016).

Ludicra, a quintet fronted by two women (Christy Cather and Laurie Sue), displayed the influence of post-rock and space-rock on their Hollow Psalms (2002), while Another Great Love Song (2004) and Fex Urbis Lex Orbis (2006) adopted a smoother sound.

The double-disc The Slay Stack Grows (Shadow Kingdom, 2009) contains early demos and live recordings.

After the silly rock opera Ape Uprising (Cruz Del Sur, 2009), mostly influenced by doom-metal, notably The Hunchback of Notre Doom, although redeemed by the ten-minute title-track, The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore, 2010), credited just to Slough Feg, was Scalzi's most accessible work yet, inspired by melodic hard-rock of the 1970s. Digital Resistance (2014) veered towards prog-rock of the 1970s with songs such as Analogue Avengers/Bertrand Russell's Sex Den and Curriculum Vitae. New Organon (2019), credited again to The Lord Weird Slough Feg, sounds like a collection of leftovers.

17th Street (Metal Blade, 2011), with Scalzi replaced by Joe Hutton and Leila Abdul-Rauf on second guitar, tried to sell Hammers Of Misfortune's agit-prop pop-metal to a bigger audience via the catchy The Grain and the piano ballad Summer Tears.

Ludicra continued its descent into a more professional sound with The Tenant (Profound Lore, 2010), highlighted by slower rhythms, vocal harmonies and sophisticated arrangements; but only one song stands out, opener Stagnant Pond.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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