1. Hector's Hymn
2. (r)Evolution
3. Bushido
4. Live Life Loud
5. Ex Inferis
6. We Won't Back Down
7. Winter is Coming
8. Origins
9. Tainted Metal
10. Evil Incarnate
11. Wildfire

Joacim Cans - lead and backing vocals
Oscar Dronjak - rhythm, lead guitars, keyboards and backing vocals
Pontus Norgren - rhythm, lead guitars and backing vocals
Fredrik Larsson - bass guitar and backing vocals
Anders Johansson - drums

Glory to the Brave (1997)
Legacy of Kings (1998)
Renegade (2000)
Crimson Thunder (2002)
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken (2005)
Threshold (2006)
No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009)
Infected (2011)


Fredrik Nordström - production
James Michael - production
Cover artwork by Andreas Marschall

Released 2014-08-29
Reviewed 2014-08-29

nuclear blast

Rarely has an album title been less accurate than the one on this album, it offers neither a revolution nor an evolution of the band’s music. I think they showed they were going in the right direction with the excellent Infected album that they released back in 2011, no silly mascot, no silly warriors, just great and strong heavy metal with fresh songs and a step away from their usual fluff. I had high hopes for the new Hammerfall album when I saw the subject line in the mail from Warner who promotes Nuclear Blast in Sweden. I was very disappointed when I opened the mail and saw the cover and the song list as the album even starts with a song called Hector’s Hymn. It is like they took the critique from some that they left out their mascot Hector on the Infected cover and wanted to give it back in spades. Cowards! isn’t heavy metal about going one’s own way no matter what others say?

Well, this could be a short review if one is lazy. You could say ”look at the band name and cover artwork - it sounds just like that”. Power metal (of course), hymn-like songs (of course), choirs (of course), double kicks (of course), catchy melodic choruses and all of those things that any Helloween-wannabee throws into their music. Hammerfall has done this for a long time and to be honest this is the eighth album they have made that sound more or less exactly the same, only Infected deviates from this and it was great - this isn’t as great. One good thing though is that singer Joachim Cans has aged and his voice has taken some damage so it isn’t quite as clear as before which makes the vocals better this time. Too bad he still sounds more tame than a castrated Golden Retriever, but the production is great and I really like the sound albeit the drums are terribly annoying at some parts of the album.

It is the usual selection of songs that you could hear on any of the billions of power metal albums that was released in the early 2000s and of course that you also hear on any Hammerfall album bar Infected which has a slightly different kind of song selection. Lets just be nice and say that the album gives the fans what they probably want. I enjoy it more when the bands disregard their fans and makes what they want, be it good or bad, at least they have some idea of their own - Hammerfall does not (it seems). But you just cannot dislike Hammerfall because they have always made good solid power metal and you can always listen to a Hammerfall album as it holds up to an acceptable minimum quality standard, if you look very carefully it might even be that this album is more mature than any of the other copies of Glory to the Brave that they have released to date. The vocals are better despite being quite awful, the tame vocals are definitely Hammerfall’s biggest weakness.

I really enjoy the opening Hector’s Hymn, it is what Hammerfall should always be and Cans actually sounds half decent in this song. The second and third song are also very strong but then the album’s standard slowly decline to end in the mediocre (to be kind) Wildfire which is a song that cannot make any human being happy. So in the end I still like this album, sure it is the same as the band has always done and it offers nothing they haven’t already done as they probably always make the same album but change the lyrics and record it near the release date. It is as simple as saying that you know what you get and you can either like it or not, I like it but I will never buy this album but I am sure most of their fans will.




Label: Nuclear Blast
Three similar bands: Freedom Call/Helloween/A Hero for the World
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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