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Hammerfall – Steel Meets Steel – Ten Years of Glory

Label: Nuclear Blast USA
Format: CD
Released: 2007
Reviewed By: Rich Catino


I would like to start this review with some excerpts from the liner notes included in this release. Things I couldn’t have said any better myself.

“ It seems like yesterday: Traditional Heavy Metal isn’t dead (we all know its immortal) in 1997, but it lies bleeding on the ground, kicked in the teeth by Alternative Rock, Grunge, Crossover and Hardcore – music that goes down well with the kids of today. Music that sounds and looks “cool”, music that spits of the image of traditional Heavy Metal. Accept, Helloween, Priest, Maiden…heroes of a time long forgotten.”

 

With that.. in 1997 when Hammerfall (from Sweden) released their debut “Glory to the Brave”, it came at the right time bringing back the sounds of classically crafted Heavy Metal. The Europeans recognized it first and unfortunately over here in the States the sound took a bit longer to get re acquainted with again thanks to our lovely media shoving all sorts of false metal sounds down throats. Bands before Hammerfall like Iced Earth, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray, Angra and Blind Guardian all were leading the charge for pure untainted Metal even before 1997. Primal Fear, Edguy and others soon followed.

This release nicely celebrates Hammerfall’s contributions to the music we all love. The song selection is excellent offering the big arena fist in the air anthems like 'Let the Hammer Fall', 'Hearts on Fire', and 'Blood Bound', power ballads 'Glory to the Brave', 'Always Will Be' and 'Never Ever', to sword wielding head bangers like 'Templars of Steel', 'Steel Meets Steel', and 'Riders of the Storm'. 'Secrets' is also another strong arrangement, I’m glad its here. 'Dark Wings Dark Words' from the album “Threshold” is one of the more noteable (and few) thought out tunes from that disc.

From the start, Hammerfall wore their influences on their sleeves proudly, that being Helloween in the speed and soaring melodies heard on tracks like 'Heading the Call', 'Legacy of Kings' and 'The Dragon Lies Bleeding', the muscle of Manowar for the title track of their third album 'Crimson Thunder' and surely the chorus for their namesake, and Iron Maiden’s galloping rhythms for 'Renegade'. Accept’s influence and Wolf Hoffman’s meaty riffs are also a big part of the Hammerfall sound.

Included for this release are also three unreleased songs. 'The Abyss' is a short instrumental followed by their latest single/video for the anthemic 'Last Man Standing', and ballad 'Restless Soul'.

I know Hammerfall have not gone without criticism because of their at times over the top image and cheesy lyrical content, but you gotta give em credit for being one of the forerunners from the 90’s to carry the flag for traditional Heavy Metal.

I hope they make it another ten years at least. Their last album “Threshold” I found regurgitatetive, uninteresting and thought could have been better. Now, since they are entering the next ten years maybe its time for some more variety in both the arrangements and lyrics without losing their trademark sound, of course.

 
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