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One more crime...
What can be worse than faceless and repetitive power metal boredom as the band presented us on their last release "No Sacrifice, No Victory"? This album brings you the answer: faceless and directionless boredom. HammerFail had released some average records in the last years, but they had at least a certain brand and style that anybody would recognize and even accept within the metal world.
Now it's the midlife crisis of the band and they wanted to sound different. They changed everything as they got a new producer, completely new and unusual cover artwork, and they said that they have improved and concentrated on their technical skills and written about new horror topics. When I first heard of that I was afraid that this brave new direction wouldn't fit at all to the flower metal of Hector's heroes. My next reaction was excitement because I was expecting the band to change in a fresh way.
It didn't exactly happen like that. On the positive side, there are some experiments like atmospheric sound and film samples, complex song structures, and a few new topics for the lyrics. But the riffs are even more simple and boring as usual and the album isn't consequent enough and goes nowhere as it lacks of direction and structure like the band lost its feeling for catchy choruses and addicting hooks.
The only memorable moments in here are the dark horror introduction of the surprising, but quickly disappointing opener "Patient Zero", the power metal keyboard opening of the closing track "Redemption" that copies some Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica in a bad way, and finally the first single "One more time", probably the weirdest and most unusual song the band has ever written and one that is quite addictive by being very challenging for the old fans with its abrupt breaks and unpredictable changes of style.
The rest is predictable and boring. Let's pin the worst examples. The stereotypical "Bang Your Head" won't make your head bang but shake because you feel immediately embarrassed. The predictable fifth son ballad "Send Me a Sign" is as exciting as athlete's foot and it doesn't help that this track is another cover song, this time from a rather unknown Hungarian band. The original song is, in fact, called "Hol van a szó" ("Where's the Word" in English) by Pokolgép and is way better than the cover version with its rough and charismatic voice that makes me think of an old "aria" ballad. HammerFall's Joacim Cans completely destroys the original atmosphere of the song. This is probably the band's worst cover song. Finally, "Let's Get it On" is even more silly and has some live male shouting samples that want to add a powerful live atmosphere to this boring average rocker in the most ridiculous way. Even the less horrible average tracks have a lack of quality to the other material of the band catalog and fail to touch, inspire, or even shake a leg in me.
In the end, there is no single outstanding track on this record that's convincing over a full length even if "One More Time" comes rather close to it. This album is a weak and desperate mid-life crisis attempt of an old fashioned band to change its style. When you thought that this band couldn't be less interesting and energizing as on the last record, they now prove that they really can and have reached the bottom. Everything has gone wrong and I wouldn't even suggest buying this album to a faithful HammerFall fan or someone that is expecting something new and believes in the last couple of reviews and interviews with the band and their new output. I'm serious, don't buy this blindly. You really should listen to some tracks to avoid a negative surprise. I give fifteen percent for the courage of the band to release this album and its weak sense of innovation at some points,and the fact that one can listen to this album as undisturbed background music at least.
Let me keep my verdict short for you: this is the bottom of HammerFall and probably already the winning candidate for the worst album of the year.