HammerFall's eighth studio album is the first one without their mascot Hector on the cover. Whether this is a way to show us the beginning of a new era or not remains to be seen. This time they have chosen to produce their album by themselves and with the assistance of James Michael. According to Dronjak, their work with Charlie Bauerfeind was becoming routine and it was time for change. A bold step, since the production has been almost perfect on their collaborations.
The HammerFall Heavy Metal recipe is still present to this day. A couple of fast songs, a couple of midtempo songs and of course one cheesy ballad. Yet they have taken a step or two in another direction though, without leaving their typical sound too much. This sounds more mature, yet fresh, than their latest releases, which felt like created by a band without any new ideas.
First song, Patient Zero, is a slow song for being an opener on a HammerFall album and I don't really wake up until track number two, Bang Your Head, is up. A tribute to the 30 year old Heavy Metal scene. A great, fast and catchy song with somewhat cheesy lyrics. Next song, One More Time, is the first single off the album, which I see as a bit strange since its total lack of a catchy chorus. The drum beat is easy to remember though and with some radio time, people will probably want to hear this song played live, even though I can name six or seven better songs on this album.
A couple of fast and great songs like The Outlaw, Dia De Los Muertos and 666 - The Enemy Within is abrupted by a ballad. A cover version of Pokolgép's Send My A Sign. An all but good song, which never should have been recorded, even if Joacim is making a great job singing it. I Refuse and Immortalized are two heavy songs and also good pieces of work, showing a bit of the new direction I mentioned earlier.
The album's two last songs is first another fast track, Let's Get It On, and then the closer, an astonishing and epic song, the seven minute long Redemption. A song with a ballad theme, yet experimental with a fast chorus.
This album marks a new start in the band's career and is their best one since Crimson Thunder. It also shows that they have a lot of great music inside them still to be written.
also review of: Built To
Last , (r)Evolution
, No Sacrifice,
No Victory , Chapter V: Unbent,
Unbowed, Unbroken, Threshold
, Crimson Thunder ,