Hammers Of Misfortune – “The Bastard” (2001)


Label : Metal Blade Records

Review by Tony Cannella

From San Francisco, California, Hammers of Misfortune are a band that I have always heard about, yet have never actually heard. Now, thanks to the good people at Metal Blade Records, that is all about to change, not only for me, but many other metal fans as well. That iconic label has recently signed Hammers of Misfortune and is re-issuing the bands back catalogue, which consists of four albums. Their debut, “The Bastard” was released in 2001 and very few bands actually attempt something this ambitious their first time out. “The Bastard” is described as an ‘epic tale told in three acts with three distinctive characters/voices’. Stylistically speaking the music of Hammers of Misfortune is often described as Progressive metal mixed together with some Folk and Doom elements, with some heavy moments as well some more peaceful and serene instances. Even though “The Bastard” features 14-songs, the playing time is a manageable 46-minute long. The whole thing plays out over the course of the 14-songs as the story unfolds. Over the years, Hammers of Misfortune has undergone a number of line-up changes with guitarist/vocalist John Cobbett and drummer Chewy Marzolo being the constants throughout the bands history. The three vocal styles are used pretty evenly. You have the two male vocalists – clean and more extreme styles. The clean male vocalist kind of reminded me a bit of Warrel Dane from Nevermore. And then you have the beautiful female vocals provided by Janis Tanaka who also plays Bass. The heavy riff of “The Dragon Is Summoned” gets things going, a beautifully frenzied tune that really sets the pace for “The Bastard”. The next track, “The Bastard Sapling” is a slower, acoustic folk flavored track at the start then gets heavier around the middle section. Many of the songs on “The Bastard” are in the 2-4 minute range. The main exceptions being the almost 7-minute “An Oath Sworn in Hell” and the 9-minute closing epic “Sacrifice/The End”. “For the Ax” is relentlessly heavy and became one of my favorites, as that leads into the equally heavy “Troll’s March”. I don’t know what else to say. The debut album from Hammers of Misfortune goes where few bands dare to tread on a debut, and they do so with an abundance of confidence and talent. “The Bastard” is a near perfect album. Hammers of Misfortune are said to be working on their new album scheduled for release in 2011 via Metal Blade.

Rating – 93/100



  1. The Dragon Is Summoned
  2. The Bastard Sapling
  3. On Wings of Vengeance
  4. Hunting Tyrant
  5. You Should Have Slain Me
  6. An Oath Sworn in Hell
  7. The Blood Ax Speaks
  8. Tyrant Dies
  9. The Witch’s Dance
  10. The Prophecy Has Two Meanings
  11. The New King’s Lament
  12. For the Ax
  13. Troll’s March
  14. Sacrifice/the End


Line Up

  • John Cobbett – Vocals, Guitar
  • Mike Scalzi – Vocals, Guitar
  • Janis Tanaka – Bass, Vocals
  • Chewy Marzolo – Drums



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