HammerFall – (r)Evolution

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An undercurrent to 2014’s metal story, particularly within Power Metal circles, has been that of a rediscovery of their essence and, ultimately, redemption by the more established bands whose works had shown diminishing returns since early vaunted and lauded releases; bands that have diluted, lost their way and their spark. Bands like Sonata Arctica and EdGuy have found the old magic and produced albums that don’t just throwback to yester-Golden-year, but are resplendent in the fairy dust of Power Metal brilliance, returning to form gloriously.

Despite pretty much being the catalyst for the return of Power Metal to a post nu-metal world with their classic debut Glory To The Brave in 1997, on (r)Evolution, their ninth album (all for Nuclear Blast), HammerFall find themselves needing to follow the narrative of other successful comebacks after the disappointing, limp and creatively redundant Infected and a decade of albums that whimpered in the shadows of their glorious first two.

The first thing to note is the return to Studio Fredman, and the reappearance of Fredrik Nordström in the producers chair for the first time since Legacy Of Kings, still to this date the band’s best outing, and the vibrancy he brings to their sound. Returning to the style that conquered Europe so many years ago, (r)Evolution hurtles out the gates with the self-referential ‘Hector’s Hymn’, a joyful call-to-arms that reasserts HammerFall’s trademarks, and screams that they are back on track and back on brand, mentally, lyrically but most important musically.

All the classic HammerFall elements slot into place, with main man Oscar Dronjak  revitalised and doing what he does best, pulling out Dio-esque riffs on the fists-in-the-air ‘Live Life Loud’, or twisting the Priest strangle grip on the intro to ‘Tainted Metal’, with plenty of chugging power chords and flowing leads throughout. Where Joacim Cains sounded stifled on Infected, here his distinctive tones are free, as if he is enjoying life leading a heavy metal band playing traditional heavy metal once again, effortlessly finding the right melodies to turn songs into anthems replete with collosal choruses.

Both in the title of the album, and in several of the lyrics, there is an acknowledgement of what HammerFall is, does and should do, and by implication, the limitations that were exposed when they tried modernising and changing their sound too much. But the thing is, when HammerFall do what HammerFall does best, such as on the likes of ‘Bushido’ and ‘We Won’t Back Down’, it matters not that it has been 16 years since their last great album, only that on (r)Evolution they have found themselves again, and have lived up to their own legacy, the legacy of kings of Power Metal.

7.5/10

HammerFall on Facebook

 

STEVE TOVEY

Ghost Cult Top Five- Steve Tovey

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Every month Ghost Cult polls our staff to see what they are listening to at the moment. Sometimes it’s the latest underground album, and sometimes it’s an old favorite. Sometimes the music isn’t even metal, and that’s okay too. You can always find the Top Five list in our digital magazine, out monthly. This month UK Deputy Editor Steve Tovey shares with us what he is listening to right now. 

 

PyrrhonThe Mother Of Virtues

Picked up for review, but keep spinning it, with each listen a new challenge. Cracking this is harder than cracking the Enigma code. Incredible intensity taken to the very extreme boundary of what is still music.
Amon AmarthDeceiver Of The Gods

My favourite album of last year. Great for cardio! Stick this on, beast the first 20 mins, hit a good mid-tempo rhythm for 15 then amp it up for ‘Warriors of the North’ to round off your cardio work out.

 

SlayerShow No Mercy

Hadn’t listened for a while, stuck it on while working out – instant grin, instant extra 5%, instantly reminded what a great album this is, instantly listened again. Perfect mix of Maiden, Venom and Metallica and possibly my favourite Slayer album. Yep.

EdguySpace Police
I love a good bit of power metal, but I’m picky and most power metal albums fall short of my standards. This stands head and shoulders as best power metal album of last 2 years. All together now “Love T-T-T-Tyger!!!”

 

Whitesnake – Trouble
1987 is one of my all time favourite albums, but recently been dipping into the ‘snakes back cat a bit more, and this is timeless. Dave Trousersnake says he never stole another man’s woman but I find it hard to believe that…

 

STEVE TOVEY

 

Edguy – Space Police: Defenders Of The Crown

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Tobias Sammet vocalist, composer, keyboard player and main man of Edguy (he also somehow finds time to do the same for Avantasia) recently stated that Space Police – Defenders of the Crown (Nuclear Blast) is “the album Edguy will be measured against in the future”. A bold statement considering not only do they have a hat-trick of genuine power metal classics in their ten-album canon (Vain Glory Opera, Theater of Salvation and Savage Poetry), but also bearing in mind the German power metal quintet have failed to reach those heights of recent years.

The dual title-tracks wade in early, setting the tone for the album; a bouncy keyboard-line with a hook the size of the Allianz Arena launches ‘Space Police’ bringing things to a great catchy chorus, off to a spacey Bowie inspired midsection; ‘Defenders Of The Crown’ picks up where things left off, a fists-in-the-air call to arms; ‘The Realms Of Baba Yaya’ continues with strong verse and even stronger chorus, all the time chugging guitars underpinning the melodies and hooks, while is ‘Do Me Like A Caveman’ (!) is, surprisingly, a quality Bon Jovi ‘In These Arms’ style semi-serious romantic rocker – those crazy Germans!

Sammet’s vocals are superb throughout, equal parts David Lee Roth, Biff Byford and Hansi Kursch, with an uncanny knack of delivering the silly, the serious, the epic and the cheesy with conviction and emotion, none more so than on ‘Alone In Myself’, a change of pace that wouldn’t be out of place on Magnum’s underrated ‘Wings of Heaven’.

The bar is raised even higher with closer ‘The Eternal Wayfarer’; the result of Sabaton covering Tony Martin era Black Sabbath, wading in with symphonic bombast, before opening its epic arms to bring the album home victorious.

Elsewhere, full credit has to go to the Van Halenesque ‘Love Tyger’, a simply great rock anthem that would have dominated MTV in years gone by and will stick in your head for years, while the cover of Falco’s ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ works better than it has any right to. 

While Helloween’s Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums may have been the starting point for power metal, Edguy have defined their own, more Hard Rock take on the sound and Space Police forces mouth muscles to grin and horns to be raised as it serves up a slew of hooks, choruses and a joie de vivre, a feeling of unashamed joy, all the way through. Sammet’s bold statement is more than backed up. Space Police is the best power metal album since Sabaton’s Carolus Rex, and Edguy’s best since Theater of Salvation.

9/10

Edguy on Facebook

Steve Tovey