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Hammerfall - Gates Of Dalhalla

Label: Nuclear Blast
Format: DVD/CD
Released: 2012
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 8/ 10

Special guest laden, 25-song, career spanning live retrospective, captured on Blu-Ray, as well a pair of audio discs, from the Swedish outfit who single-handedly (and not without significant opposition, remember vocalist Joacim Cans getting slashed in his hometown bar?) resurrected traditional metal in the dark days of grunge and nu-metal. On July 28, 2012, the Hammers invaded the open-air stage Dalhalla (the title a play on the site of Viking afterlife), which is housed in an old quarry near the village Rattvik. Thus all the song introductions and stage banter is in their native tongue.


Original/former members of Hammerfall, including guitarists Stefan Elmgren (who left to become a commercial pilot) and Jesper Stromblad (ex-In Flames), as well as Dark Tranquility singer Mikael Stanne were on hand and appear on several cuts throughout. Elmgren is brought out for a trio of consecutive songs: ‘Blood Bound’, ‘Last Man Standing’ and ‘Fury Of The Wild’, while the other get one each: Stromblad, ‘The Dragon Lies Bleeding’, while Stanne adds his gruff lead vocals to ‘Steel Meets Steel’. The ‘Hearts On Fire’ finale sees everyone onstage simultaneously.

Opening with ‘Patient Zero’ off the most recent release (“Infected”), there’s something from each of their eight studio efforts, yet no cover tunes. Odd, given the Swedes always toyed with such, even before releasing 2008’s “Masterpieces”, an entire album worth of other people’s material. Actually, ‘Nar Vindarna Viskar Mitt Namn’ is performed with Roger Pontare, the Swedish representative who sang it during the 2000 Eurovision song contest (televised international Idol styled competition amongst European nations), but that hardly counts as a real cover, in my book. Sort of a countrymen shout out, meaning little outside their homeland. Newbies ‘B.Y.H.’, a punky ‘Let’s Get It On’ and ‘One More Time’, each fair well on their (non-bootleg) live debut, demonstrating the heavier, rejuvenated HammerFall evident on “Infected”.

Although the band issued a live disc nine years ago (“One Crimson Night”), only ten tracks are repeated here and somewhat surprisingly, that includes just four off the debut and only a pair from the sophomore outing! The acoustic begun ‘Always Will Be’ has moments recalling Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and Cans gets the crowd to sing most of ‘Let The Hammer Fall’, which precedes a tedious four-song arch (broken up nicely by the all-out guitar run instrumental ‘Something For All Ages’, before the triumphant run to the end (punctuated by ‘Glory To The Brave’ and their signature tune). Enjoy it, as they’re on hiatus from live shows throughout 2013, as founder Oscar Dronjak relaxes and writes his memoirs (Ha, I know the guy. He’s too wired to just kick back and do nothing!).

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