Though the idea of a 'covers' album is nothing new, and quite frankly has been done to death in recent years, give power metal legends Hammerfall some credit for putting together a set full of 'not so obvious' tunes here on Masterpieces. Most of these tracks have been available before on previous albums, b-sides, or special editions, but there are a few that show up here for the first time, which makes this a CD worth seeking out for the Hammerfall enthusiast. Sure, we could probably all do without hearing a remake of "Breaking the Law", but honestly, that's one of the few covers here that has the 'been there done that' feel to it. I mean, who the hell does covers of songs by Picture, Pretty Maids, Heavy Load, or Chastain these days? Right, nobody. So while you are digging into these rare tunes that you might never have heard before, there's also strong renditions of Helloween's "I Want Out", the awesome "Head Over Heels" by Accept (kudos guys for picking that one, as opposed to "Balls to the Wall"), Rainbow's "Man on a Silver Mountain", Yngwie's "Rising Force" (one of my personal favorites here in this set), and a hot "Crazy Nights", originally done by those Japanese metalheads Loudness. Props also have to go out for a dramatic take on the KISS classic "Detroit Rock City", showing that a non-US band can grasp the vibe too, and a fist pumping rendition of Warlord's "Child of the Damned".
While none of this is going to make you stop listening to the originals, Hammerfall do a great job of paying homage to some of their heroes here on Masterpieces. End result is a nifty little covers set that should hold over the power metal fanatics until the band gets their next studio album ready.
01. Child of the Damned – Originally recorded by Warlord
02. Ravenlord – Originally recorded by Stormwitch
03. Eternal Dark – Originally recorded by Picture
04. Back to Back – Originally recorded by Pretty Maids
05. I Want Out – Originally recorded by Helloween
06. Man on the Silver Mountain – Originally recorded by Rainbow
07. Head Over Heels– Originally recorded by Accept
08. Run With the Devil – Originally recorded by Heavy Load
09. We´re Gonna Make It – Originally recorded by Twisted Sister
10. Breaking the Law – Originally recorded by Judas Priest
11. Angel of Mercy – Originally recorded by Chastain
12. Rising Force -Originally recorded by Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force
13. Detroit Rock City -Originally recorded by KISS
14. Crazy Nights– Originally recorded by Loudness
15. När Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn – Originally recorded by Roger Pontare
16. Flight of the Warrior – Originally recorded by Riot
17. Youth Gone Wild– Originally recorded by Skid Row
18. Aphasia – Originally recorded by Europe
Added: August 19th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Hammerfall Website
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Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-08-19 14:51:49
Lately I have been having these dreams where I am walking alone in some dark and foreboding part of town when suddenly I am surrounded by cover albums that chase me down until I run into a dead end where I am overtaken and throttled by their seemingly endless numbers. Ok, so perhaps I am exaggerating just a little bit here, but one has to admit that the amount of these types of releases that have been released over the past two years is uncanny. We've seen them coming from bands as different in Rock's musical genre as Poison and Ministry, Queensryche and Def Leppard, Tesla and now even Hatebreed has jumped on board. With this in mind, I now present to you "Masterpieces", the latest in a batch of cover tunes albums by the ever almighty Hammerfall. In Hammerfalls defense, at least most of these tracks are numbers that the band had recorded over the years and included on either their own releases of the special "tribute to" artist A, B or C as opposed to them sitting down in the studio and deciding to breeze through some classics from the past as their new album. The other great thing about the Hammerfall covers release is the fact that it once again calls to mind some of the often unsung heroes of Metal's past such as Warlord, Stormwitch and even Chastain for that matter. These were important bands of the time and as the years went by far too many of them had come to be forgotten in the minds of the Metal public. Yes, the Old School fans always hold the banner high but this is a way for the next generation of fan to be reminded of their impact. It's great to realize that a band like Hammerfall found influence in them, and even bands like Loudness and Riot and together placed all of these ideas into the musical memory banks as they formed their own magic for the continuation of the genre.
In the end I enjoyed most of the album and got a kick out of "Breaking The Law" by Judas Priest since it found the members of the group all switching roles to do it, and "Youth Gone Wild" by Skid Row was another interesting inclusion since it almost became an anthem of the time when we first heard the band. Some of the tunes are dead on renditions and we find this in "Man On The Silver Mountain" and "We're Gonna Make It", the Rainbow and Twisted Sister tracks respectively. The band lines out the reasoning for doing such a project in the liner notes and amidst all of the wonderful photos they provided we see the listing for where many of the tracks came from in the first place. It's important to note that not all of the tracks are legacy numbers and the Skid Row, Europe and Riot piece are all entirely new compositions. As a release of this type it is one of the better ones and it's a nice way to revisit the things that Hammerfall found influential and relevant to their own origins. I felt it was a lot more sincere and honest than those bands who offered up tracks and then in the liner notes make mention that they had never heard the track when it was first played and only recently discovered its greatness and felt they should now cover it. Hammerfall is working on their next studio album at present and has also delivered a new DVD to the public to enjoy while they wait.
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