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Hammerfall: Hammer of Dawn

Hammerfall has had a prolific and well received career as Power metal artists. Since the mid 90’s, the group has released twelve albums, with the most recent being Hammer of Dawn from February of this year. The band has stayed true to the sound that they started out with, showcasing epic riffs, a larger-than-life production, and lots of operatic vocals. This album is very strong. There are a lot of catchy and memorable tracks, and everyone sounds at the top of their game.

The track listing on this album is consistent throughout. There isn’t much variation in styles, but the band is extremely exciting and true to themselves. Lead singer Joacim Cans kills it the entire album. Being in the band for 26 years now, it’s astounding how amazing his voice sounds. He has a wide range, and he is very operatic. I like how hooky the melodies of the verses and choruses are vocally. They capture my attention almost instantly. The instrumentation is also fantastic throughout. The drumming by David Wallin is gigantic sounding, and his chops are extremely impressive. The guitar by Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren are also amazing. The riffs are quite memorable, as are the melodic lead parts and power chord heavy rhythms. The guitar tones are also pleasant to listen to. The band is heavy, but the high production quality and clarity of the guitars and other instruments allow it to sound quite accessible as well. There’s nothing on the album that strikes me as overly original, but they do what they do so well that it’s still refreshing to listen to. The quality of their songwriting and structure is also very strong, which helps keep my interest throughout the 45-minute runtime. Some of my favorite tracks are “Brotherhood”, “Not Today”, “Live Free or Die”, and “No Mercy”. My favorite track of all is the second to last song “State of the W.I.L.D”. It starts off a bit soft, with a beautiful vocal intro and relaxing guitars. Within about 30 seconds, the riff kicks in, and it’s probably the heaviest on the album. The vocal harmonies on it are also well done and have a very epic quality. The one gripe that bugs me every time is that the intro riff to “No Son of Odin” sounds exactly like the intro to “Sad but True” by Metallica. The rest of the song is awesome, but this opening gets under my skin every time I listen to the album.

Overall, I think this is a great release from a band that has released so many albums already. Even though it doesn’t stray too far from their typical formula, the songwriting is still very strong, and the tracks are memorable as well. The band sounds as good as ever, and Cans’ vocals are still top notch. If you are already a fan of Hammerfall, I can’t see any reason why this album would be disappointing at all. If you aren’t a fan of theirs or Power metal, it is a great album to check out to familiarize yourself with the genre.

Hammerfall is:
Joacim Cans- Lead Vocals
Oscar Dronjak- Guitars and Backing Vocals
Fredrik Larsson- Bass
Pontus Norgren- Guitars, Backing Vocals
David Wallin- Drums

Track Listing:

  1. Brotherhood
  2. Hammer of Dawn
  3. No Son of Odin
  4. Venerate Me
  5. Reveries
  6. Too Old to Die Young
  7. Not Today
  8. Live Free or Die
  9. State of the W.I.L.D
  10. No Mercy

Added: June 6th 2022
Reviewer: Ryan Gavalier
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1199
Language: english

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Hammerfall: Hammer of Dawn
Posted by Brandon Miles, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-06-06 19:28:53
My Score:

Hammerfall are (or were if you want to be that guy) a very important band. While there were many bands carrying the flag of traditional heavy metal during the 90's, Hammerfall were the band that really planted a flag in the ground and declared to the world that the old school, melodic, whips and chains kind of metal was back, and that all the pissing and moaning from the grunge and alt-rock bands of the era could leave the hall. Heavy metal such as this was derided as cheesy and dated throughout the decade of Cobain and Vedder, but despite that, there was obviously a fanbase that was eagerly waiting for some fist pumping and headbanging, whether they knew it or not. Glory to the Brave and Legacy of Kings exploded onto the scene and made a huge and monumental impact in the development of modern power/traditional metal. I still remember picking up the latter of the two in high school and being blown away by how triumphant and ass-kicking the entire album was and how it really galvanized my love of this brand of European steel. Since then, Hammerfall have been on a downward curve in terms of quality (although I do find Renegade and Crimson Thunder to be pretty great), and the band has sadly lost a significant amount of relevancy, although that's the general nature of the business. There's always gonna be someone newer and more exciting to the metalheads out there, and Hammerfall have largely been content to keep chugging along with their trademark style, for better or worse.

I approached their newest release Hammer of Dawn with a healthy serving of scepticism. I obviously wanted to like it, partially due to nostalgia and also because I do find it admirable that they just keep being Hammerfall and keep the fire burning. I haven't truly liked an entire album by the boys in damn near 20 years, so I'd say my pessimism isn't exactly unwarranted. Well, I can joyfully report that Hammer of Dawn is the band's best album to these ears since Crimson Thunder all those years ago. This isn't because of any new ideas (of course) or flashy performances, but because the songs here are for the most part are well written, inspired, and full of righteous glory and the melodies that finally live up to the watermark of the band's old material.

Starting off with a bang, "Brotherhood" has all of the characteristics of classic Hammerfall, with chugging sixteenth-note riffs and double-kicks blazing up a storm. The lyrics tend to be a mixed bag with Hammerfall, and can be a bit cringey from time to time, but "Brotherhood" is so good otherwise that you can ignore it. The delivery of said cringey lyrics by Joacim Cans is convincing and pretty damn great. The guy sounds EXACTLY the same as he did back in the late 90's, and I'm not certain how that's even possible given the register he sings at most of the time. Dude must be ageless.

The album's title track is a little more chuggy, and fittingly has the whole Accept vibe going for it, with gang vocals during the chorus. And what a chorus it is.


It's goofy and silly, and I can't stop singing it with a fist raised high every time I hear it. "No Son of Odin" is step up in intensity, with a bit of a turbo-charged Judas Priest vibe to it. "Venerate Me" is one of the singles off of Hammer of Dawn, and it's a fine song but I would have preferred at least one or two tracks off of the album to showcase its strengths. In fact, the next two tracks on the album; "Reveries" and "Too Old to Die Young" are probably my favorite tunes on the release. "Reveries" is another mid-paced galloping rocker, but the melodies and triumphant chorus are just Hammerfall at their absolute peak of... being Hammerfally. "Too Old to Die Young" is a rarely poignant and poetic set of lyrics for the band, the verse riff is crunchy and melodic, and the choir vocals that come in and out during the verses evokes feelings of a merry band of medieval knights returning home victorious from battle. This song above any other on the album evokes feelings and emotions from me that I didn't think the band had the fire for anymore. Such a great surprise.

"Not Today" is the standard issue ballad on Hammer of Dawn, and it's ok. The chorus is fairly inspired, but you've heard it done better before, and by Hammerfall themselves."Live Free or Die" picks the pace back up and I'm pretty fond of the vocal harmonies that are peppered throughout the song. Pretty sweet guitar solo as well. "State of the W.I.L.D." has some fairly aggressive riffs for the band, and while I have no idea what the name of the song is alluding to, it's a competent fist-pumper. Album closer "No Mercy" is completely and unashamedly Accept Worship and it absolutely kicks ass. It's a headbanging good time the entire way through, and the gang vocals return for one last victorious romp.

Hammer of Dawn is easily the biggest surprise of the year for me thus far. It's more Hammerfall, but it's more Hammerfall done right for the first time in years and years. The songs are full of great moments and melodies that manage to keep you engaged and if you are in the mood for a rousing, and triumphant traditional metal album this will absolutely fit like a glove. I didn't think they had it in them, and I'm just so excited to be wrong. It may not change your opinion of them, but if you are or were ever a fan of Hammerfall, you pull your old Legacy of Kings shirt out of storage and wear it proudly again. Hammers high, indeed.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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