Originally known by the name Unholy Cadaver, San Francisco's Hammers of Misfortune play what might be described as Celtic power metal.
Their style mixes together Thin Lizzy/Iron Maiden-style dual-guitar harmonies, operatic vocals, Celtic-tinged acoustic guitar interludes, and elements of Scandinavian black metal (musically, not lyrically). The quartet is led by guitarist/vocalist John Cobbett, who, along with fellow guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi, is also a member of the band Slough Feg. Hammers of Misfortune's lineup was originally rounded out by bassist/vocalist Janis Tanaka (who has also played with L7, Stone Fox, and Fireball Ministry) and drummer Chewy Marzolo. Their initial demo, the plainly titled Demo #1, was recorded during 1996 and 1997 and released under the Unholy Cadaver name. Hammers of Misfortune's first official release, a deluxe-packaged, three-act concept album titled The Bastard, finally came out in 2001 and was followed by the similarly well-appointed and ambitious The August Engine in 2003. However, the latter had been recorded mostly by Cobbett and Chewy, with little input from Scalzi or Tanaka, and its liner notes officially announced the latter's exit after the sessions' conclusion, to be replaced by bassist/vocalist Jamie Myers and pianist/organist Sigrid Sheie. This lineup embarked on a rare tour across the U.S. in the summer of 2004, but was idle for much of the following year while Cobbett and Scalzi focused on recording and promoting Slough Feg's Atavism album. By the time Hammers of Misfortune's third opus, The Locust Years, finally emerged in 2006, more personnel changes were on the horizon, and it was announced at year's end that both Myers (pregnant with her first child) and Scalzi (too busy to deal with both Slough Feg and Hammers) had chosen to depart. Their replacements were Patrick Goodwin (Dirty Power), taking over male vocals and guitar, and Jesse Quattro (Secret Chiefs 3, Carniceria), handling bass and female vocals. A dual concept album, Fields/Church of Broken Glass, dropped in 2008, and in 2011 the band issued their highly acclaimed fifth studio long-player, 17th Street, which was the first HOM outing for new frontman Joe Hutton. 2016's Dead Revolution saw the group going both heavier and darker, utilizing the talents of producer Nick Dumitriu (Vhol, Ritual Chamber), who operated from a vintage Trident board using minimal digital processing, resulting in the band's warmest sounding release to date. ~ William York & Eduardo Rivadavia