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Hammerfall – Masterpieces

Label: Nuclear Blast USA
Format: CD
Released: 2008
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
“The title refers, quite obviously, to the songs and original bands, all of whom have been instrumental in one way or another to shape the sound of Hammerfall. These are our heroes, unsung or well-known, and we thank you all for providing us with many, many moments of musical bliss from our early years and on. True ‘masterpieces’ in our minds.” – Hammerfall, 2008
This collection of covers does include several previously found on Hammerfall’s studio albums, yet, still very worth the purchase as many were initially only released on singles. You also get three previously unreleased.

What I like is that Hammerfall chose songs by hard rock and heavy metal bands which makes sense, and each cover is done true to the original, just of course with Hammerfall’s sound. I feel it is fair to give an artist a chance to cover someone else’s work because you know what…some times a cover can be reworked and re envisioned nicely, other times can be just better breathing new life into an old arrangement and it gets a much needed kick in the ass that the original lacks. Case in point with White Lion’s “Radar Love” which buries the original.

Two of Hammerfall’s earliest covers “Child of the Damned” originally done by Warlord and “Ravenlord” by Stormwitch, appeared on the debut “Glory to the Brave” . Pretty Maid’s “Back to Back” can found on “Legacy of Kings” and I think is one their best renditions.

“I Want Out” is an exact copy of the Helloween classic and for good measure includes guest vocals, and if I’m right guitars, from ex Helloween member Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray). Very well done and adheres nicely into the Hammerfall sound.

Hammerfall’s cover selection has a good balance between the obvious and the obscure. If your looking for the hits, well then you got Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City” which I completely bypassed (I just can’t listen to the song ever again) and Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” where the band members had some fun and switched instruments to spice up the rendition. I think here the vocals are handled by guitarist Oscar Dronjak and he does an ok job. You could tell they didn’t take this one too seriously.

Accept’s “Head Over Heals” features guest vocals from Udo and is a solid lesser known song to give a nod to, same with “Were Gonna Make It” by Twisted Sister.

My moneys with a blazing Neo classical Rising Force” (Yngwie Malmsteen) with those dueling guitars and keys, the double kick drum driven “Flight of the Warrior” (found on the excellent “Thundersteel” album) from Riot, and Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild”. For the Skid’s song, Joacim Cans does his best to keep up with Sebastian Bach’s ballsy screaming delivery but lacks the Jersey boy’s attitude and edge. Then again, Joacim is Swedish so my observation shouldn’t be taken to heart, just a point. I am also happy to see a song from the band Europe and one off of their earlier albums pre “The Final Countdown”, that being “Aphasia” from “Wings of Tomorrow”.
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