There are few bands from the Swedish Metal scene that have had such a successful career as HAMMERFALL. The group formed as a side project in the early ‘90s featuring members from IN FLAMES and DARK TRANQUILLITY; it was no surprise that they became one of the front runners of Power Metal. After a short hiatus following the release of their previous album Infected, which may not have met the standards of their die-hard fan base, they have returned to their roots with (r)Evolution which will hit North America on September 2 via Nuclear Blast Records.
“Hector’s Hymn” offers a very strong opening with a hard driving rhythm and the lyrics ironically symbolize these guys returning to form. Many of the tracks have a true classic metal vibe worthy of head banging and fist pumping. The uplifting anthem “Live Life Loud” would make you swear you were in the 80’s with the tasty riffs that got stuck in my head while working as well as the catchy chorus. Another immediate standout track would be “We Won’t Back Down” with the Melodic Death Metal styled riffing that I almost mistook for something that could’ve been on an early IN FLAMES record.
I had a good time listening to this offering especially getting lost in the rapid fire guitar work and fast-paced double bass attack. I really loved the harmonized leads and you can never go wrong with dueling solos! “Origins” was easily another favorite featuring a neoclassical introduction that is repeated where needed and has many of the qualities that I mentioned earlier. The following jam “Tainted Metal” has a more modern approach but still meshes well with everything else especially with lyrics speaking of demons and dragons. I feel that “Bushido” exudes the most feeling and emotion by not sounding as happy as the rest of this LP; some of the strongest riffs can be found on this one.
However, the more I listened to this disc I just couldn’t help but notice the similar song structures and predictable vocal lines coming into play; not trying to put them down by any means, I understand that most groups have their own formula but a little variety wouldn’t hurt. I was less than impressed with the ballad “Winter Is Coming”. On the other hand, “Ex Inferis” has a nice slow groove but I couldn’t get over the “Holy Diver” factor; it came off as somewhat forced and thrown together quickly. Personally, there are many high points and this is record was easy to rock out to, but I wouldn’t exactly keep it in my regular rotation. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is nostalgic with their eighties and power metal though!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Live Life Loud”, “We Won’t Back Down”, “Bushido”, “Origins”
WRITTEN BY MACHETE AND JOR-EL