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I have seen many comments from "disappointed" kids that HammerFall have changed. What did they change? Yes, they have changed a bit their logo, they have changed their clothes, they have changed the album cover (Hector is gone). So is it enough to say this is "new" HammerFall? Some say this is their best album, and they sound much heavier and better than before. If they were not heavy enough, then they would not be part of heavy metal music. Do they sound heavy? Yes, they always sound heavy, from the first studio album to this one. So heaviness is still here. Is this their best studio album? No, it's not, but it's still excellent. This is not perfect HammerFall release without bad songs like: Renegade, Crimson Thunder, Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, Threshold and No Sacrifice, No Victory. This is the same HammerFall that started to unleash heavy music since 1997. There is no old and new HammerFall, there is only one HammerFall, and here they are.
Guitars are in drop D tuning, but fortunately they do not sound like gaycore, groove, industrial or other wannabe poser bands. They play classic heavy/power metal, and they play it the best way possible. This is not their best studio album because there are some bad parts like keyboards in song Redemption. It somehow reminds of trance music or shit like that. It could have been excellent without that part, but now it is just very good. This is their release with the most keyboards, although there are not many, but 666 - The Enemy Within and Redemption contain notable amount of it. The Outlaw could have been better, because it is much softer than any other song here. They payed much attention writing lyrics, while not focusing much on music. It's very good anyway. I Refuse could have been more energetic, and a bit more creative in order to be excellent one.
There are many better parts like riffs, which are heavy, powerful, and very creative. Songs like Patient Zero, Bang Your Head, One More Time, Dia De Los Muertos, 666 - The Enemy Within, Immortalized and Let's Get It On are examples of those amazing riffs. Just like in their previous releases, here you can find powerful, energetic and bombastic power metal songs like Patient Zero, 666 - The Enemy Within, Immortalized, One More Time and Dia De Los Muertos. Also they have powerful and very beautiful ballad Send Me A Sign, which is cover of Pokolgep's song, but with changed and translated lyrics from Hungarian to English. They made it better than original, just like they always do. They know how to HammerFallize songs they decide to cover. It sounds like their own. Guitar solos are nice and tasty. Lots of guitar duels and harmonies, shredding and other guitar techniques can be found here, but this time Pontus didn't leave good impression. He made better guitar solos on No Sacrifice, No Victory album. Stefan Elmgren knew how to make better guitar solos, but Pontus hasn't done it here. Anyway, each guitar solo perfectly fits each song.
People say: "HammerFall fail to make dark songs". I don't know what they mean by that, but this is not "dark" (whatever that means) studio album, 'cause this is just another release with their authentic sound. This studio album is not commercial at all, but offering for the metalheads. This is just new album for God's sake, new songs, new inspirations, new way of thinking. HammerFall are really cursed with nerdy "fans" and hateboys. First, people said: HammerFall changed with album Crimson Thunder. Then they said: no, they changed with Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, and said that album was "darker". Then they said: no, they changed with album Threshold. When No Sacrifice, No Victory came out, people said: this is "new" HammerFall, and now again. So, this is the clue that these are just empty talks.
Good sides of this release:
Heavy, powerful, strong, unique, massive riffs, orgasmic melodic guitar work, Joacim's excellent singing, excellent tempo changes, enjoyable rhythms, powerful and massive refrains. Well-done progressions in songs like Patient Zero, Bang Your Head, one More Time etc. where they managed to make excellent tempo and mood shifts. This is an excellent album, and I recommend it for every metalhead.
Bad sides of this release:
I Refuse, The Outlaw and Redemption are the only weaker songs, but they are still very good, so, there's nothing wrong about that. In a case you want to listen to great song about outlaw, then listen to Manowar's Outlaw and Gamma Ray's Mr. Outlaw, and you will realize what I mean under perfect song. Redemption could have been excellent without those trance keyboard moments.
Patient Zero, Bang Your Head, One More Time, Send Me A Sign (Pokolgep Cover), Dia De Los Muertos, 666 - The Enemy Within, Immortalized and Let's Get It On.