Swedish warriors Hammerfall have been powering on their victorious quest singing about the power of steel and metal since 1993, and their debut of 1997 Glory Of The Brave still remains one of the genre's top releases. Two original members remain with founder and guitarist Oscar Dronjak and vocalist Joacim Cans, drummer Anders Johansson joined in 1999 prior to their third release Renegade in 2000. While guitarist Pontus Norgren and bass player Fredrik Larsson were brought into the Hammerfall ranks and appeared on the album No Sacrifice, No Victory of 2009. Though Fredrik did have a prior stint with the band and performed on their debut.
Quite the consistent act though the changes we heard on that last Hammerfall album Infected with its zombie inspiration were not so enthusiastically embraced by all. Now the band have a new album (r)Evolution that should go a long way to silence those critics, being a sizeable return to the Hammerfall of old, and while I didn't dislike Infected this new album is clearly an improvement. Hammerfall's mascot Hector makes a return to the cover art which is the work of artist Andreas Marschall, who was also Hector's original creator. That's not the only return to the early days, as (r)Evolution was produced by Fredrik Nordstrom who worked with the band on their early albums Glory To The Brave and Legacy Of Kings. Guest vocalists on (r)Evolution include James Michael, Mats Leven with backing vocals and gang vocals by The Lost Boys' Choirs.
"Hector's Hymn" is up first as Hammerall have their "Hammers high, to the sky" with flowing double kicks and soaring guitars on this inviting power metal number, Ander's foot work is less animated but still powerful for the pounding metal of title track "(r)Evolution". Whilst Hammerfall tell of a sword wielding warrior on "Bushido" with its catchy chorus and very agreeable guitar melodies. Hard driving metal is that which follows on "Live Life Loud", and it's a slow and mighty Hammerfall we hear next with "Ex Inferis". Before boosting it up again for "We Won't Back Down" but not for long as there's a charming ballad "Winter Is Coming". "Origins", "Tainted Metal" and "Wildfire" offer more of that irresistible classic Hammerfall up tempo metal. There is also a cracking bonus track on the version I received called "Demonized" that's worth tracking down with Hammerfall at their engaging best.
"Hammerfall, we will prevail" and these lyrics taken from their debut album still ring true, as after many years Hammerfall are still one of metal's brightest shining lights.
1. Hector's Hymn
4. Live Life Loud
5. Ex Inferis
6. We Won't Back Down
7. Winter Is Coming
9. Tainted Metal
10. Evil Incarnate