|Hammers of Misfortune was formed in the mid-1990s under the name Unholy Cadaver. At the time, the only members were guitarist John Cobbett and drummer Chewy Marzolo, both of whom shared vocal duties. Enlisting the help of other musicians, among them Mike Scalzi of The Lord Weird Slough Feg, they recorded a full album's worth of material in their rehearsal space. However, only three of these nine tracks were included on the band's aptly titled Demo #1, and the majority of the material remained unreleased until 2011, when Shadow Kingdom Records released the entire recording as the Unholy Cadaver LP. Unholy Cadaver's output laid the groundwork for what would become Hammers of Misfortune's signature style, but it also contained elements of death metal that would be phased out in future recordings.
In 2000, the band changed its name to Hammers of Misfortune, taking its moniker from a track on the Unholy Cadaver demo. Recruiting Scalzi and Janis Tanaka (formerly of Fireball Ministry and L7), the band released its 2001 concept album The Bastard on Tumult Records. The Bastard received many positive reviews in the metal community, including several "best of 2001″ awards from magazines such as Terrorizer and Lamentations Of The Flame Princess.
In 2003 the band signed a deal with Cruz Del Sur Music, releasing their second album The August Engine by the end of the same year. This album was also well received by the metal community, getting a 10/10 review from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles magazine among other acclamations.
After The August Engine, Janis Tanaka stepped down (to tour the world with pop star P!NK), and the band recruited Sigrid Sheie (keyboards, flute, backing vocals) and Jamie Myers (bass, vocals). This new lineup toured the US twice, and recorded The Locust Years, which was released on Cruz Del Sur in 2006.
After The Locust Years, there was another lineup change. Mike Scalzi left the band, in order to focus on his main band, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, and Jamie Myers left the band in order to raise a family. Scalzi was replaced by Patrick Goodwin, and Jesse Quattro replaced Myers on vocals. Bassist Ron Nichols (ex-Christ On Parade, Grinch) was added, and drummer Chewy left, and rejoined the band. With this new lineup, the band recorded the double album, Fields/Church of Broken Glass (Profound Lore), in 2008. However, this lineup was not to last, as Quattro, Nichols and Goodwin parted ways with the band in 2010.
Cobbett subsequently recruited bassist Max Barnett (ex-Old Grandad), guitarist/vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Saros, Vastum, Amber Asylum) and lead vocalist Joe Hutton (ex-The Worship Of Silence). In March 2010, Hammers of Misfortune announced that they had signed a record deal with Metal Blade Records. Since then, Metal Blade has re-released The Bastard, The August Engine, The Locust Years, and Fields/Church of Broken Glass. In October 2011, the band produced their fifth studio album, 17th Street, another critical success which landed on many year end lists, including Popmatters and NPR.