Well into his career as the leader of Hammers of Misfortune, as well as a vital member of Ludrica and Vhol, John Cobbett started to peel back the onion regarding his creative process. He needs sufficient time to get into the swing of writing an album. Once he does, it becomes all-consuming. Cobbett cannot stop; it deprives him of sleep and turns him into a taskmaster. But, it’s for one perfectly good reason: He has to finish the album and release his art into the world. Hammers of Misfortune’s 2001 debut, The Bastard, was the beginning of a journey that has made the San Francisco outfit one of metal’s most unique and cherished bands. Just in time for its twentieth anniversary, Cruz Del Sur Music is releasing the album for the first time on vinyl.
Written throughout 1999, The Bastard was demoed on Cobbett’s four-track recorder. The recording process — which featured the Hammers lineup of Cobbett, guitarist/vocalist Mike Scalzi (Slough Feg), bassist Janis Tanaka (P!nk) and drummer Chewy Marzolo — then tracked in the band’s rehearsal room to an old eight-track reel-to-reel by their friend, Rich Morin, who, according to Cobbett, was just starting the learn the ins-and-outs of audio engineering. Cobbett oftentimes cut his vocal parts well into the night, sometimes having to do battle with another local band bashing out Rush covers. Eventually, Cobbett completed his vocals on Halloween night, 1999, alone in the dark.
The release will feature unreleased photos from Cobbett’s collection, as well as never-before-seen artwork that never made it to the original CD pressing. It will also be a double LP with one “act” per side since the album is comprised of three acts, with a silkscreen design comprising side four. The Bastard re-release comes with vinyl-specific mastering courtesy of longtime engineer Justin Weis, a booklet full of lyrics and artwork restored by Annick Giroux of Temple of Mystery Records and in coloured vinyl with gold and black splatter.
Currently in the throes of writing a new Hammers studio album, Cobbett has a special affinity for The Bastard — he can clearly recall what he was aiming for with every part. Unlike any album of its time, The Bastard was a metal opera for a new generation of metal fans who pined for something more. Twenty years later, The Bastard, as well as Hammers, resonate more than ever.
The Bastard releases on July 9th.