BY: TJ FOWLER
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
When Hammerfall’s ‘Glory to the Brave’ was released in the mid to late 90’s it came at a time when metal was really at a low point in the United States. I hosted a heavy metal radio show at my local university and at that time ‘metal’ was anything that involved lots of down tuned guitar and vocals that really constituted nothing more than ripping out your own lungs and spitting blood. So to say when Hammerfall hit the station my co-host was not a fan. I however was hooked.
‘Glory to the Brave’ was everything that had once made metal great but was almost eradicated in the 90’s and lost. Despite some people at that time making fun of the band and thinking they weren’t ‘hard’ enough the band persevered and went on to release several more great albums in a row. In fact I credit Hammerfall for helping usher in a new era of metal for the new millennia. Then came the ‘Chapter V’ album and things had changed and Hammerfall was lost to me. Something about that album and the songs on the next releases just weren’t the same, so I lost track.
Now the band, after a few years rest, have a new offering, ‘(r)Evolution’ which harkens back to the bands first releases, supposedly. They even have went back and got the producer of ‘Glory to the Brave’ to get that golden sound that made Hammerfall great in the beginning. So it wasn’t just me, they seemed to know as well that the band needed to go back to what their roots are and part of that is the producer I suppose.
As I listen to ‘(r)Evolution’ I can hear the sound from ‘Glory to the Brave’ in some of the songs, especially ‘Hector’s Hymn’. So in this regard the band has at least partially successful. However also what made Hammerfall great were the themes, catchiness of their songs and the energy those early songs seemed to produce. Basically, good songwriting. Sadly, I feel that this is still missing somewhat from the band and the songs on this album. That is not to say the album is bad but there are just some songs that do not contain the imagery or fire of songs of ‘Where the Dragon Lies Bleeding’, ‘Trailblazers’ or ‘Heeding the Call’. In fact there are a few songs on the album that are just…not good. I understand bands change and time goes on but I was hoping this would be a return to form for Hammerfall, as I will always be a fan, but I just feel ‘(r)Evolution doesn’t tap into what Hammerfall was hoping for. The good news is though it is a better album than ‘Infected’ and maybe at least this is a step in the right direction for the band.
Maybe they should come back to America and visit Waffle House again to get some more inspiration. 😉