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Hittman - 1993 Vivas Machina

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ARTIST: Hittman
ALBUM: Vivas Machina
SERIAL: SPV 084-76552
YEAR: 1993


LINEUP: Dirk Kennedy - lead and backing vocals, piano, keyboards * Jim Bachi - guitars, backing vocals * John Kristen - guitars, backing vocals * Michael Buccell - bass * Mark Jenkins - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Radio Waves * 02 Listen * 03 Say A Prayer For Me * 04 Words * 05 If You Can't Dance To It * 06 Answer My Prayer * 07 Partners In Crime * 08 Renegade Man * 09 Ballad Of Jackson Heights * 10 Walk That Walk * 11 Mercy

WEBLINKS: Hittman FB Page

Long after the tide of traditional heavy metal had surged out to sea, U.S metal band Hittman too had drifted off on a liferaft containing remnants of the late 80's scene. Surprise to many that they re-emerged in 1993 with a new album 'Vivas Machina', but losing most of the elements which made them popular during the mid to late 80's. To my ears, Hittman still have a definite Queensryche sound in evidence, but not as much as previously. Plus, they seemed to have bolted on a Bon Jovi component too. One track in particular takes on a wild west persona, hence the comparison. While I'm at it, there's a hint of funkiness a la Extreme and Sunshine Jive/In The Pink. Still signed to SPV, the band made just the one change, drummer Chuck Kory replaced by Mark Jenkins.

The Songs
Getting past the 1940's musical intro for 'Radio Waves', the band fire off into their trademark sound. The solo section moves in the same direction as Fifth Angel, plus there are some strange blowpipe synth parts in there too. 'Listen' is full of funky bass lines but still remains true to form, with the dual guitars of Kristen and Bachi dominating. Church organ parts introduce 'Say A Prayer For Me', but not for long, as the song surges into a melodic rock romp. 'Words' is the band's power-ballad moment, while 'If You Can't Dance To It' is a fun-time excursion a la Mr Big and Extreme. I believe the song is a piss-take on the music trends of 1993. Yes, it really was that bad! 'Answer My Prayer' is a deep dive expedition, and I'm sure it will be easy to compare to Queensryche, or maybe even a band like Enchant. 'Partners In Crime' is another tune that is comparable to Extreme. Even the wah-wah guitar parts are of a funky nature. 'Renegade Man' is Hittman's take on a Western ballad. Maybe an ode to Billy The Kid? If so the Hittman tag is appropriate. Hard to ignore the Jon Bon Jovi comparison on this one. 'Ballad Of Jackson Heights' refers to the neighbourhood in the Queens precinct of New York City, but the song itself is one of young love. 'Walk That Walk' leans more toward melodic hard rock, and is certainly lighter than previous Hittman material. The funky bass lines come alive on 'Mercy', but then it changes pace and becomes much more orchestrated with huge piano influences amid a Queen like delivery. It's quite long too, well over 8 minutes.

In Summary
After listening to this, I'll admit this is not as heavy as their first album. Still, it's likeable enough, despite the change-up styles to be found here. There was a whole bunch of dialog over on the Heavy Harmonies website with Dirk Kennedy around the year 2003. Dirk mentioned that he was working on a solo album with a different style to that of Hittman. Unfortunately his website is no longer online and the album never saw the light of day. Somehow I feel the final rites have not yet been cast upon this band, and they may come back to life. Here's hoping. SPV/Steamhammer? Get to work.

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#1 | Carl Noonan on August 02 2017 17:51:00
Love this band, big shift in direction on this album from the first but it's still great. Pity they never carried on. Dirk Stevens has a great voice, wish he'd recorded more stuff.
#2 | reyno-roxx on August 02 2017 21:14:06
Dirk did indeed record a solo album a few years ago, but it's release remains a bit of a mystery. Both Hittman albums are being re-issued as expanded versions with a lot of previously unreleased material. The debut will be out by the end of the year. A new album is out next year. Michael Buccell was sadly killed in a road accident a few years ago.
#3 | gdazegod on August 02 2017 21:51:37
I really enjoyed bands like this back in the 80's. Can also include: Canadians Sword, fellow NYC'ers Spread Eagle, and even Fifth Angel, despite my indifference to Ted Pilot.
#4 | Carl Noonan on August 02 2017 23:02:22
Glad to hear about the reissues and new album, thanks Dave.
#5 | gdazegod on August 02 2017 23:13:39
Maybe we should look at dragging Dirk here to GDM.. both our reviews of the two albums show Hittman in a favourable light.. hmm!

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