Monday, September 1, 2014

HammerFall - (r)Evolution

HammerFall is one of those bands that some love and some loathe. I actually discovered "The Metal Age" right at the dawn of the internet age. The release of 1997s Glory to the Brave was one of the most exciting times for me because it seemed that old school metal was still not only being made but being made well. I hopped on the HammerFall bandwagon right away and Legacy of Kings sealed the deal for me. I was a fan boy. Their formula for fast melodic power metal songs with anthemic choruses and cheesy chivalry lyrics was exactly what I love about traditional metal. So what do they do? They slowly move away from that formula to become a band I hardly recognize anymore.

Lets face it, their last two albums were absolute shit. No Sacrifice, No Victory was just weak with no ideas. It sounded phoned in. Infected was another turd that did nothing but pick up where the previous had left off. Gone were the anthems that defined this band. Don't get me wrong, not everything they did after Legacy of Kings is as lackluster as those last two but you could see where they were heading. So, of course, leading up to this album we get teasers that Hector looks like he did on previous album because Andreas Marschall did the artwork like on the first three. Frederik Nordstrom was at the knobs again. Here we go...another "back to roots" album. Then they release two teaser tracks, "Bushido" which sounds like it could have fit well on Renegade and "Hector's Hymn," a kick ass HammerFall song that could have been on either of the first two. My anticipation is growing now. Then the album drops...and drops hard. The two previously mentioned songs and a song called "Origins" is all that's worth it on this album. Yeah, there are some nice solos and good guitar work in places but the songs are just sad.

I already mentioned the album opener, "Hector's Hymn." This is classic HammerFall through and through. Speedy and melodic. The warrior lyrics are back in full force. So I'm starting to think that this might turn out to be a true return to form. As I mentioned before, "Bushido" could have been on Renegade. The title track has some okay ideas but it just sounds phoned in. The gang backing vocals seem out of place with the rest of the song. Not horrible but just not up to the standards they set for themselves in the beginning. "Live Life Loud" sounds like it's trying to be an anthem but instead it just comes off as sounding way too cheesy, and not in a good way. It plods along and just doesn't have any personality. This is where the disappointment starts to come in. Those fuckers! Did they really think that we would buy this shit just because there's a real HammerFall song on it? Now my disappointment is turning to bitterness. "Ex Inferis" is "Templars of Steel" all over again. So now they're recycling their more stale riffs to try and pull the wool over our eyes. The chorus is the only thing worthy on this song.

"Origins," as I mentioned previously, is the other really powerful track on the album. It's fast and the riffing is quite good here. The chorus is true HammerFall and is catchy and melodic. The bridge is the middle is the only thing that seems out of place. Great song but they infused some bad ideas into the middle to make it seem a little less believable. the solos are kick ass. The ballad before it is just awful. HammerFall has made some good ballads and some really bad ones. This is one of those bad ones. But a lot of times the bad ballads can be overlooked but not here. It just adds another notch in the filler section. It's sad that there is this much filler on an album by a band that can write songs like "Hector's Hymn" or "Origins." I don't think that they are out of ideas as much as I think that they have rock star disease. Maybe they think they don't have to work so hard to create memorable songs because their fan base is large and loyal enough to allow them to get away with being lazy. Fuck that! I've been a fan since the beginning and I'm pissed.

At the end of the day, it could be said that this album is better than their two previous because it actually has good songs on it. It may be only three but it has good songs. Oh well, as long as I can still listen to Legacy of Kings I will do so, and forget that this album even exists.


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