HAMMERFALL — (r)Evolution

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HAMMERFALL - (r)Evolution cover
3.78 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2014

Filed under Power Metal


1. Hector’s Hymn (5:54)
2. (R)Evolution (4:25)
3. Bushido (4:41)
4. Live Life Loud (3:32)
5. Ex Inferis (4:41)
6. We Won’t Back Down (4:19)
7. Winter Is Coming (3:49)
8. Origins (4:58)
9. Tainted Metal (4:39)
10. Evil Incarnate (4:36)
11. Wildfire (4:04)

Total Time 49:36

Bonus Track:
12. The Way of the Warrior (Fredman Version) (4:08)


- Oscar Dronjak / Guitars
- Fredrik Larsson / Bass
- Joacim Cans / Vocals
- Anders Johansson / Drums
- Pontus Norgren / Guitars

- Azusa Pacific University Choir / Vocals (Choirs)
- James Michael / Vocals (Tracks 3, 6 and 7)
- Mats Levén / Vocals (Backing)

About this release

Release date: September 1st, 2014
Label: Nuclear Blast

Thanks to diamondblack for the addition and DippoMagoo for the updates


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If you haven't guessed it by now, I have an incredible soft spot for power metal. Now, I'm not a major fan, I do think some bands can be a bit stale and repetitive. I also believe that some bands can maybe be a bit too cheesy. Now Hammerfall are cheesy...but they are pretty great songwriters too and are band that are incredibly technically efficient and have a very underrated vocalist in the form of Joacim Cans.

Ever since their first hiatus, the band came back with a sound that was unparalleled and was even better than their early days. “Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken” and “Threshold” would be up their with some of power metals best. But sadly the follow up “No Sacrifice, No Victory” was a slight let down. “Infected” was actually a step in a better direction but didn't see much acclaim from audiences, resulting the in the band going on another hiatus. The band are now back, showing promises and traits of their earlier days, proto and post first hiatus.

Musically the band show flickers of their old sound, but do now and then show off some of the dark moments which sprung up on their last 4 albums. In many ways, the band are still doing what they have always been doing. Some of the cheese which they tried to loose is back, but a bit of cheese never hurt anyone, especially when the songs are good, and proven on this album...they are.

I do admit, I did prefer the band whenever they had their classic line up. While Pontus is an absolutely astounding guitar player, I always think Stefan Elmgreen was and is more to my taste. The band have shown some experimental moments on this album too and it ends up being rather enjoyable at times...but it's all about the cheese.

Opening track “Hector's Hymn” is very much a return to form for the band. An anthem dedicated to their mascot, the song is pretty anthemic and would be perfect for opening live gigs off. The music video for this song is pretty cool, which pretty much builds a narrative around their old album covers.

The album's lead single “Bushido” is definitely one of the strongest on the album. With some pretty spellbinding guitar work, the song is carried well with a pretty great sing-along and powerful chorus. Anthemic and fun, how could you not like it.

Two very interesting tracks on the album would be “Ex Inferis” & “Evil Incarnate.” Taking a darker lyrical stance, the band talk about Satan and evil and stuff, which is a big step away from warriors and templars of steel. The songs musical styles have heavier riffs and “Evil Incarnate” even has some death growls spreading on it.

My favorite song on the album would probably be “Winter Is Coming.” Now, I am a big “Game of Thrones” fan so this is a little biased, but other than that, I do think this is one of the most unique songs in Hammerfall's catalogue. Showing off a great vocal performance from Joacim and a pretty cool slow arrangement, the song is pretty epic.

One of the cheesiest songs on the album and probably one of the most enjoyable songs would have to be “Tainted Metal.” A great sing along chorus with some cheesy moments and oddly funny lyrics, you gotta love the pure nostalgia of this tune. One of the fastest tracks on the album too.

One of the oddest tracks on the album would have to be “Wildfire.” With an odd and rather epic chorus with some pretty cool choir sections, the song has a rather symphonic approach to it. One of the most interesting tracks Hammerfall has ever made.

Overall, this is pretty much a return to form. The band still have a slight edge to their sound from their past releases, but the cheesiness and anthems are back. If you want to put on some leather, grow your hair and bang your fist into the air, this is an album for you.


Genres: Power Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Fist, Speed Metal, Symphonic Metal

Country of origin: Sweden

Year of release: 2014
Going in to (r)Evolution (2014), the 9th full length album by Hammerfall, I was a bit nervous. Unlike most Hammerfall fans, I had been perfectly happy with their recent output. In fact, as much I liked the speed and energy of albums like Legacy of Kings (1998) and Renegade (2000), Infected (2011) quickly became my favorite album, due to its powerful sound, crushing riffs and the overall darker tone which felt like a welcome change from their typical cheesy fantasy themes. Of course, most of their fans completely disagree with me, and considered their last two albums to be by far their worst. So it's no surprise that they decided to return to their roots with (r)Evolution. The result is an album that would have fit in perfectly with the stronger albums from their middle period, especially Crimson Thunder (2002) and Threshold (2006), while still containing enough small elements of Infected to keep me happy.

(r)Evolution isn't the total return to the roots that the marketing and other reviews would make you think it is. While their first three albums emphasized the power metal elements of their music, and their last two albums switched to more of a heavy metal sound, this album is closer to their middle albums, which struck a fairly even balance between the two. So while fans of their early albums will find a few songs to be very excited about, I doubt they will like this as much as either Glory to the Brave (1997) or Legacy of Kings. If anything, the glorious, ultra speedy opener “Hector's Hymn” could cause fans to suffer from unrealistic expectations that the rest of the album can't quite live up to: It sounds like classic Hammerfall through and through, complete with lyrics that celebrate their earlier albums while worshipping the hammer wielding Hector, who appears on all but one of their album covers (his absence from the cover of Infected was another thing their fans criticized.)

While I tend to prefer for power metal bands to play really fast, I find Hammerfall pulls off their mid-tempo songs just as well, if not better than their speedy songs. When I first heard the single “Bushido”, my expectations shot up a bit, as it's exactly what I wanted: A strong main riff, mixed with epic vocal melodies and an absolutely spectacular chorus, that proves that even though Joacim Cans sounds a bit rougher than he did in their early years, he can still sing the epic melodies as well as ever. As always, he remains one of my favorite features of the band.

The rest of the album isn't quite as good as those two songs, but it's still excellent overall. Fans of their early albums have a few excellent speedy songs to enjoy, including “Live Life Loud”, “We Won't Back Down” and “Origins”, with that last one in particular reminding me a lot of Freedom Call, especially during the chorus. On the heavy metal side, songs like “Ex Inferis” and “Evil Incarnate” sound like they came straight from Infected, with a focus on slow, crushing riffs and the same dark and sinister tone that album had the whole way through. The former in particular is one of my favorites on the album. Elsewhere, the title track is simply a straight-forward and somewhat cheesy mid-tempo track, with rather silly lyrics, but it has so much energy to it that it still works anyway. On the weaker side, the ballad “Winter is Coming” doesn't really go anywhere, and the closing track “Wildfire” sounds like an experiment gone awry. While it is one of the fastest songs on the album, the slightly irritating main riff and electronic effects instantly threw me off, and while the repetitious chorus powered by choir vocals is something I'd usually like, on a Hammerfall album it simply sounds strange and out of place, even a bit annoying.

Despite that one big misfire, and the overall feeling that the band may be trying too hard to please everyone instead of just playing what they really want to play, (r)Evolution is another excellent Hammerfall album, that contains a perfectly even split between their two styles. I personally prefer Infected and their earlier albums because those were all more focused and cohesive compared to this one, but in the end (r)Evolution is a collection of 9 solid to excellent songs, one good song and only one misfire, which is certainly nothing to complain about.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/hammerfall-r-evolution-t3748.html)

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