without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
This album is a debut, which usually goes with the tag that they could have done better but they are green to the art. This is most certainly not the case with Hammers of Misfortune's The Bastard. The Bastard blurs the edges between genres like NWOBHM, Traditional Doom, Black metal, and progressive.
The album is a concept story about a bastard son who has been left for dead at birth by his pillaging father. After growing and learning the nature of man a spirit comes to him and calls him to wrath towards his tyrannical king. After confronting his father he finds he can't destroy his father alone. So the legendary Blood Ax is given to the protagonist in an Oath sworn in hell. The story proceeds from there, with the protagonist killing his father, taking up the throne and his reign.
The music itself is very florid and though it interplays between different styles and genres flows very well. The album's first song, "The Dragon is summoned" is probably the only track I can do without. It has a good riff and is nicely structured but the vocal lines sound a little chaotic. This is made up for easily with the next five songs being brilliantly done. Songs transition seamlessly so I advise going through songs in order.
The vocal patterns in this album are very well done. Each vocalist has a voice in the story so for all my fellow Mike Scalzi fanboys rest assured he is a very big presence on this album. The protagonist is Mike Scalzi, the female vocals portray the spirits and witches that appear during his quest, and the harsh vocals delivered by John Cobbett are the tyrant and demons in the story. It is well scripted and the story will keep the lyrics easily remembered in your head.
The highlights of the album would be "On Wings of Vengeance","An Oath Sworn in Hell","The new king's lament", and "You should have slain me"
Though I do recommend listening to the songs with the appropriate songs that accompany them i.e. The bastard sapling and on wings of vengeance go together.
I recommend this to any metal fan who likes NWOBHM, Doom, Progressive, or even Black metal, as long as they aren't elitists.
Hammers Of Misfortune is a side-project of Slough Feg's guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi, and I am pleased to say that his creative influence has carried over quite well, yet this is different from his other band in important and very engaging ways. This is heavy metal that can be traced back to classic, oldschool roots like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and the likes. Don't mistake this for power metal though; despite the excellent use of melodies and guitar harmonies and the occassional operatic female vocals, this is straight-forward metal release. Mike sings in a mid-range tone and although his vocals don't sound too distinct from Slough Feg, the other bandmembers pitch in to make this a separate and easily recognizable entity of it's own.
The Bastard is a concept album that shifts between classic metal, NWOBHM, folk, and even more extreme death/black metal riffs and vocals. Musicianship is outstanding, yet not over-the-top, as solos are somewhat rare, but still effective in their context. One might complain that the moods conveyed here are not continuous, because there is so much variety, however I feel like that is perhaps this album's greatest strength. It defines itself according to the story going on it the lyrics, and sometimes that calls for quick changes in pace, sound and style. I really don't think it's distracting either, since practically every riff and every tune here is so damn catchy.
I would recommend this to all metalheads who like the energy of the oldschool headbanging bands, but it also requires some interest in diverse music that expands boundaries, not in a challenging way but a very appropriate way. I think you will agree too, if you give The Bastard a chance! There is plenty to enjoy on this record, it has a great production, and although I've done my best to describe it, it is another one of those things that you just have to hear for yourself to understand. I seem to say that about a lot of albums I review on this site, but that is usually the sign of good music, which this undoubtedly is.
This album is certainly worth the name of Mike Scalci. He managed to mix black metal, folk, NWOBHM, and operatic vocals and not suck at it. This is definitely an achievement. The black metal element is rather surprising, but very fitting. The album starts off with a wonderful tremolo attack, and immediately lays the cards down on the table. Intertwining harmonized guitars, harsh and female vocals, and a generally minor key, but very dramatic atmosphere. It never feels forced or over-produced, something that most more dramatic or concept albums seem to suffer from.
The Slough Feg influence is definitely felt here. Not only does Mike sing on this album, the production is almost exactly the same. This adds an intensity to the harsher parts that is present in SF material as well. The story is rather engaging and it's definitely recommended to get the cd (as opposed to downloading this), to follow the story. The musicianship is top notch, but not focused upon. Solos are sparse but effective, and the general feel of folk-inspired classical riffs is definitely executed well. The unexpected use of blast beats in some of the more intense sections is very refreshing, as this seems to be used little in this genre of music.
one gripe I have about this album is that it can be somewhat non-continuous. The moods change quickly, according to the mood of the story. This leaves some stop-start moments that can be slightly awkward, but it's not highly distracting. It's definitely an album you have to actively listen to, as opposed to something you can just run in the background. This may not be too appealing for some people, but it's a concept album, so this is expected.
Overall, a really good album, and very engaging.