American power metal outfit Hammeron, based in Chicago, started out in the early 1980's with a different lineup than the one that would come to release the cult album Nothin´ To Do Again But Rock in 1986. Vocalist Brian Troch joined the band early on and soon after talented guitarist Jack Lazor also joined in. By the mid-1980's, these two were complemented by guitarist Mick Vega, bass player Danny Vega and the only original member, drummer Pete Pagonis. Just before recording their debut album Pagonis left the fold to join Damien Thorn, leaving the band without any remaining original members. Enter Jeff Ward, a powerhouse drummer with a great timing and feel and also the brother of Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Ward.
The classic line up was now in place and would last until the band broke up in 1990. In 1985 the band managed to get two songs published on two sampler collections; ”Marching Off to War” (Chicago Class of 1985) and ”The Only One” (Chicago Metal Works Battalion 2). Why these two were omitted from these reissues I do not know.
Nothin´ To Do Again But Rock!
In 1986, Hammeron entered Tanglewood Studios in Brookfield, Illinois to record their debut and, until now, sole album. Nothin´ To Do Again But Rock may seem, judging by the title, as some kind of banal and simple hard rock album. You cannot be more wrong! What you get here is classic American power metal in the vein of Queensryche (Rage for Order era), Lethal or Heir Apparent! Nice guitar duels by Vega/Lazor and fantastic guitar harmonies spiced up by crystal clear vocals from Brian Troch. Slighlty progressive in the song textures and great vocal and guitar harmonies build up these songs with memorable hooks and choruses. The production is of course, judging by today's standards a bit dated. This album should have been far more successful than it was in the mid 80´s. Being a self-financed release such issues as lack of distribution and marketing made the album doomed from the start commercially. Thanks to Greek label No Remorse Records (Great job guys!!) everybody gets the chance to discover this lost gem and pay tribute to what could have been.
Wired For Sound!
No Remorse Records has also issued the 1987 demo and the later Sponges demo, all on one CD aptly renamed Wired For Sound. For the first time, these are now available to the public. This Wired For Sound album offers varied material in terms of quality. The 1987 demo portion continues on in the vein of the first album with heavy but melodic songs building on strong hooks with lots of melodies and harmonies but the sound quality is a bit on and off being a demo. The last three songs are taken from the Sponges demo and they really lower the grade on this album. To me it only sounds like a wall of sound with no memorable hooks or riffs. Troch screams and shouts like hell but nothing good comes out of it. I´m sorry to say, but it´s pure crap to me. Trying to sound like Pantera was obviously not the right choice. You could call it evolving but in my opinion it was a nosedive into obscurity.
Music style changed for the band and they started to grow apart, not being in agreement on where to go, Hammeron parted ways in 1990. Jeff Ward would then move on to play with Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, however, he struggled with a heroin addiction and tragically took his own life in 1993 (RIP). Guitarist Jack Lazor went on to sing for Widows Rose in Arizona with Jeff´s brother Jason (also in Flotsam & Jetsam). Mick Vega moved on to play with Syndrome, Mad Dog, The Plague and Rising Up Angry. Dan Vega also played with Widows Rose and Mind Bomb. Lead vocalist Brian Troch took the job as frontman with Znowhite and later on Cyclone Temple. Later on, he teamed up with Joe Stump, Jeff Tortora and Jimmy Pma to form Shootinghemlock and released two albums with them. Currently, Brian is playing with the band Flywater.
Track By Track Comments (Nothin' To Do Again But Rock)
|Picture courtesy of Underground-Empire.com|
Track By Track Comments (Wired for sound)
|Picture courtesy of Metal-Archives.com|
No Remorse marketed this re-release as a long lost US metal masterpiece. I have to say it´s pretty damn close to that. For being a mid 80´s release these guys deserved so much better. They recorded a very consistent debut album (Nothin' To Do Again But Rock) – which had the songs and the musicianship to compete with the best. Yet, they faded into obscurity and I certainly did not catch them in the day. It's only thanks to the enthusiasts at No Remorse that I (and maybe you too) get to hear it! Back in those days there were no internet, no facebook, no twitter. I must say this is a great release that deserves a 7/10 points. When it comes to ”Wired For Sound the sound is not as great and the band are going for a heavier sound. The song quality is very varied with the end of the album being absolutely below par and pure nonsense. I would give the album a 4/10, the last three songs lowering the grade by at least two points and the sound quality deducting the last one in comparison with the debut album. It would have been better to include the two early songs and leaving the Sponges demo off the album in my opinion. My advice is to start off with Nothin´ To Do Again But Rock if you are not familiar with the band. I hope you all will give it a listen because it will be worth it. If your into melodic metal with pinch of progressiveness then this one is for you!
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