By Dr. Abner Mality

John Cobbett and his merry crew of metallic misfits have returned and are more wildly inventive than ever! Apparently John has moved to Montana (where I assume the breathtaking band photos were taken) and has reunited with old cohorts Jamie Meyers, Sigrid Sheie and even Mike Scalzi from SLOUGH FEG. Not only that, but he’s got the rhythm section of VEKTOR along with him. What kind of eclectic brew have the new HAMMERS managed to stir up?

The press describes “Overtaker” as sound like a collision between KING CRIMSON’s “In The Court of the Crimson King” and SLAYER’s “Reign In Blood”. That’s a hell of a description to live up to, but “Overtaker” comes closer than anything else I could imagine. Most of the record is extremely fast, definitely motoring along at high thrash velocity, but progressive and orchestral melodies are deftly integrated into the fury. There’s a lot of Hammond B-3 and Mellotron goodness along with sizzling lead guitar solos and intricate twin guitar melodies. Perhaps some of you remember the band VHÖL that Cobbett worked on with YOB’s Mike Sheidt. You will hear a lot of that band’s spacy thrash here and I think there are probably a few VHÖL leftovers here.

Then of course there are the unique female vocals of Jamie Meyers, with Sheie and Scalzi lending assistance to create a baroque vocal experience. To describe all the intricacies and eccentricities of the tunes here would take a book, but I thought “Viper’s Cross” was particularly majestic in sound and construction, with other highlights being the “Overtaker”/”Overthrower” duo and the proggy thrash of “Don’t Follow The Lights”.

It’s one of HAMMERS’ most ambitious and raging albums and that says a lot. There’s not a more inventive outfit operating in metal today and I’m glad to see them back at it in full force.