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It's...infectious. I know, I know. - 70%

Empyreal, May 24th, 2011

Here’s something that’ll throw you for a loop: Hammerfall not releasing a bad album. Yes, that hasn’t happened in a while, now, has it? After their last album had maybe one or two decent songs in a mire of less interesting, overly-cheery pap, I wasn’t expecting much from this. Like everyone else I was confused at the cover art, which is so unfitting for this band and their sound that everyone pretty much expected them to go all groove on us, like so many other bands have. But lo and behold, they pretty much just released another album of their signature ultra-polished, sickly sweet, super-cheesy Swedish power metal, only with a few songs that have slightly darker lyrics.

Really all that’s changed here is that they traded in their usual campy fantasy for a dose of campy horror cliché. With lyrics like “Cuz I feed in darkness/I feast in broad daylight/Whatever you do, better hold on tight/and stay out of my sight,” it’s obvious we’re not dealing with anything too serious here, but then, this is a Hammerfall album. They just put different window dressing on it this time; that’s all. The one thing I wish they had done differently here is actually go all the way and make a whole concept album about zombies, like the cover art indicated. “Patient Zero” sets a very cool, fresh atmosphere that I wish the rest of the songs expounded upon, rather than continuing to flail about on different, unrelated subjects.

The songs themselves are the usual Hammerfall-styled collection of some good tunes and some mediocre ones, but what surprised me is how few of these songs really struck me as outwardly lame. A lot of them are pretty damn fun, like the opening stomp of “Patient Zero,” the hyper-catchy “The Outlaw,” the speedy “Dia De Los Muertos” and the wailing, melodic “666 – The Enemy Within.” The production is nice and clear, and Joacim Cans hasn’t sounded this good in years. Some tunes like “Let’s Get It On” and “Bang Your Head” are more standard, and the ballad “Send Me a Sign” is actively weak, but overall the album keeps a nice level of consistency.

Mostly this is just another Hammerfall album, a fact which would be looked upon in a much friendlier light had they kept releasing albums at the quality of Legacy of Kings or even the less-good Crimson Thunder. Those of you who were turned off by their last couple of albums might like this a little better, as it packs some old school Hammerfall tunes like you haven’t heard in years. So go check out Infected. It’ll be healthy for the modern power metal listener’s ears.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com