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A return to former glory? - 86%

MetalGuard, September 5th, 2012

Back in the late 1990ies, the Swedes of Hammerfall took to the scene with a legendary debut album titled "Glory to the Brave", and the rest is pretty much (metal) history: The five-piece has since conquered the hearts of heavy metal lovers all over the world by storm with their uncompromised classic heavy metal sound in a time when Alternative, Indie and Grunge was all the rage, and their second album "Legacy of Kings" managed to cement their status as "saviors of true metal" around the turn of the millenium.

However, not all that glitters is gold, and after the still impressive "Crimson Thunder" in 2002, Hammerfall's star began to dim a bit, and guitarist Oscar Dronjak's shining breastplate armor was suddenly not quite as resplendent anymore. "Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken" was a fairly expendable release with little to no highlights except for the catchy single "Blood Bound", and much the same would hold true for its successor "Threshold". It almost seemed like Hammerfall had lost their golden Midas touch... when "No Sacrifice, No Victory" came around in 2009.

Their last album to be produced by the legendary maestro Charlie Bauerfeind, "No Sacrifice, No Victory" manages once again to capture that same drive, that same rebellious spirit, that same never-say-day attitude that Hammerfall's first three or four albums contained. The opening track "Any Means Necessary" took no prisoners with a driving verse and pounding bridge before entering a battle hymn of a chorus; "Punish and Enslave" ended up being a formidable rocker, "Legion" the band's best up-tempo song since "Heeding the Call" or comparable tracks on "Legacy of Kings", and one of my personal highlights would be "Bring the Hammer down", an underrated anthem for the band.

But the good doesn't stop there: Also songs like the title track or "Hallowed be my Name" managed to captivate more than most of the bland and uninspired material of preceding albums had been able to, and it's probably only the slower songs such as "Between Two Worlds" and the instrumental "Something for the Ages" (which was written by new guitar player Pontus Norgren) that left a bit to be desired. Interestingly enough, I always felt it was the fresh breath that Pontus Norgren brought into the Hammerfall sound on this record as he replaced Stefan Elmgren on the six strings, and his more rock'n'roll approach did wonders for the overall sound and feel of the album.

Thus, "No Sacrifice, No Victory" ended up being one of the best albums in Hammerfall's catalogue, and probably the last one in the tradition of the band's great outings "Glory to the Brave", "Legacy of Kings" and "Crimson Thunder". If you enjoyed these albums, and are wondering which Hammerfall record you should buy next, then this one should be your pick.

A little inconsistent, but still good - 70%

TrooperOfSteel, June 10th, 2011

Swedish power metal band, Hammerfall, have returned to deliver their seventh studio release, entitled No Sacrifice, No Victory. This time round, however, the band is without longtime guitarist Stefan Elmgren and bassist Magnus Rosen. Both members joined Hammerfall in 1997, the year of their debut album. With those two leaving in 2007 and 2008, Hammerfall have enlisted the talents of bassist Fredrik Larsson and guitarist Pontus Norgren. Fredrik Larsson had already been a member of Hammerfall; his tenure was from 1994-1997 and did play on Glory To The Brave.

Hammerfall, unfortunately, is one band which takes a bit of a beating in metal forums around the world. It is primarily because of their change of sound from traditional fantasy power metal (Glory To The Brave, Legacy Of Kings and Renegade) to a more commercialized fantasy power metal sound (Crimson Thunder onwards). When Hammerfall arrived onto the metal scene in the late 90’s, their fresh power metal sound took the metal world by storm. Both Glory To The Brave and Legacy Of Kings were instant classics, while Renegade received less acclaim. Then, like a lot of bands do, they changed their style and many fans were not happy. Even though the musical change was minor, but significant, fans jumped off the bandwagon and the term “selling out” was thrown about. Suddenly the metal world was divided between fans who still loved the band and those who couldn’t embrace change; and their acting out was just a reaction to this change.

Still, Hammerfall have a big fan base (including yours truly) and previous releases such as Crimson Thunder and Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, have kept the metal flame burning. Only on their last release have I felt that a Hammerfall CD has been a little disappointing. Threshold did contain some great tracks, like Titan, Rebel Inside and Howlin’ With The Pac, but their ability to make really cheesy metal hymn tracks were starting to go overboard. Overall, the song quality dipped somewhat with Threshold. Now, Hammerfall have a new release and No Sacrifice, No Victory is the continuation of Hammerfall’s previous recent releases, cheese and all. The first thing that is noticeable in terms of sound, is the new guitarist, Pontus Norgren; as Stefan Elmgren had a rather distinctive style throughout all of Hammerfall’s albums.

If you enjoyed all of Hammerfall’s CD’s from Crimson Thunder onwards, then there is much to like from No Sacrifice, No Victory. Some improvements worth noting here are the improved guitar solos and the more upbeat tracks. Much like on Threshold, Hammerfall have continued to write serious lyrics more than the typical fantasy, swords and mighty warriors content that covered a lot of songs in past CD’s. Overall, I feel that the album is a mixed bag, containing both good/great tracks and a few weak tracks too. The final track on the release is a cover of The Knack’s My Sharona, a power pop hit from the late 70’s, in which Hammerfall do pull off a decent version. I feel however, that this track should have been listed as a bonus track rather than part of the CD.

It seems to me that more poor quality tracks are starting to seep into their most recent releases, and part of it is due to Hammerfall trying to create a more “epic” sounding track, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to work. It didn’t work with the track Knights Of The 21st Century and again here with One Of A Kind. Some of the better tracks to mention on the album, would be the single and opening track Any Means Necessary, Punish And Enslave, Hallowed Be My Name (no reference to the Iron Maiden classic Hallowed Be Thy Name), and Bring The Hammer Down.

By continuing on with their current sound that has now lasted four albums, it will again be a difficult listening experience for those fans of the original sounding Hammerfall from the late 90’s. As for the true Hammerfall fans, I find that No Sacrifice, No Victory is again a little disappointing, but just enough (this time) to keep you satisfied. I do feel, however, that something has to change in Hammerfall’s sound for the next album, as the gap between great tracks and poor tracks is starting to widen and I feel that their sound is starting to stagnate.

(Originally reviewed for www.metalcdratings.com and www.themetalforge.com)

Almost A Classic, But Not Quite! - 80%

AngelicStorm, October 15th, 2009

Ah Hammerfall...just like the power metal equivelant of AC/DC, their motto has always been "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". And this is a sentiment which unsurprisingly continues on their latest album, "No Sacrifice, No Victory". If you've never liked Hammerfall...well you still won't! If you're a fan, or even someone who's liked anything by them, you will likely find something on this album to enjoy. Hammerfall have been threatening to make a classic album ever since their debut, and have came close on a few occasions, but have always been let down by 2 or 3 filler tracks which drag the album down. That unfortunate trend also continues here. But fear not, Hammer-fans, there is lots here to like!

The first 5 songs on this album give the impression that at last, Hammerfall may be about to break the trend of forcing the listener to endure numbing fillers on their albums, and produce their most thrillingly consistent work yet. Opener (and the single from the album) "Any Means Necessary" is a stomping, classic metal anthem. Okay, it's unoriginal as hell, but this is Hammerfall! This is a hugely fun and enjoyable song, stuffed with hooks, and will definitely be crowd pleaser! "Life Is Now" sounds like the sort of mid-paced, ultra happy sounding track you'd find on one of Helloween's later albums. The pre-chorus and chorus backing vocals in particular sound amazingly Helloween-ish. It's an incredibly upbeat, and infectious song. Any fan of catchy, cheesy, power metal will love this one. I know I do! New guitarist Pontus Norgren also plays a great solo on this track. It's a great little tune! Next up, is my personal fave on this album, the absolutely huge "Punish And Enslave". The pounding mid-paced riffage is enough to take your head off, and the chorus is just massive. This is the Hammerfall I love! It doesn't really need to be said that Joacim Cans sounds awesome, but I will say it anyway. He really is one of metal's great vocalists, and here he delivers a great performance. By now, I'm beginning to think the high quality of this album is going to take a dip, but the magnificent "Legion" makes me look foolish for even thinking it! The song begins with a demonic voice bellowing some beelzebub-ish talk, before launching into a barrage of lead guitar harmonies, and pounding drums. It really is great to hear the band hit the accelerator once in a while, and this speedy little power metal number is just the ticket. This track has everything a power metal fan could ask for: Fast, memorable melodies, scorching solos, some great riffage, a soaring vocal by Cans, and returning original bass player Fredrik Larsson giving an inspired performance. The lone bass with the drums just before the solo sounds very much like Helloween's Markus Grosskopf. And that is definitely a compliment! The song ends as it began, with the demonic growling, but this time fading out. This really is Hammerfall in classic form!

Next track up, is the ballad, "Between Two Worlds". The cathedral like, keyboard opening is evokes much atmosphere, and sounds amazing. The song proper, is just stunning, It's dark, haunting and emotional, and is totally acoustic aside from the guitar solo. The solo by Hammerfall co-founder Oscar Dronjak is understated, but sounds just perfect for the stripped back nature of the track. I did shed a few tears during this song, and if a ballad brings that out of me, then it's done it's job! Definitely one the best, if not THE best ballad yet by Hammerfall. Then sadly, the inevitable happens. The next track is a filler. "Hallowed By My Name" is decent enough, but it lacks any of the hugely memorable hooks or riffs contained in the album's first half. The main riff sounds like a half hearted copy of a signature Primal Fear riff. The chorus is the best part, but even that is just okay. Definitely a comedown. "Something For The Ages" is an instrumental, and the first songwriting credit for Pontus with Hammerfall. This is basically a showcase for his soloing abilities. And he's certainly no slouch! I really enjoy this track. There's some inspired, otherworldly melodies going on, alongside the blazing lead guitar work. I haven't really been a fan of any of Hammerfall's previous instrumentals, so this one was a pleasant surprise. It just gives a feeling of excitement while listening to it. On the evidence of this, I hope Pontus writes more material in future for the band. The abrupt ending is quite funny too! The title track is typical Hammerfall, and a good track. The feel of this track is brooding, with it's slow and moody main riff. but it still contains the triumphant feel of the band's signature work. The song isn't quite of the very high quality of the album's first 5 songs though. Hammefall's silly habit of putting one song on every album ("Crimson Thunder" is the only album to date which has escaped this tradition!) with the word "Hammer" in the title continues here. "Bring The Hammer Down" was co-written by previous Hammerfall guitarist Stefan Elmgren. (Who also lends some lead guitar to this track) This song features yet another derirative mid-paced Primal Fear-A-Like main riff. The pre-chorus and chorus itself are enjoyable though. Hearing the departed guitarist duelling with the new boy on the solo is a fun novelty, though it should have been a lot more explosive than it actually turns out to be. All in all, a good track, but again, compared to the album's first half, it ends up falling short. Closing track "One Of A Kind" (interestingly enough, co-written by Hammerfall co-founder and In Flames guitarist Jesper Stromblad) charges to the finish line, and lifting the album back to the heights of it's beginning. This is a mini epic, featuring triumphant guitar riffs, a thundering pace in parts, a huge chorus, and a medieval sounding acoustic breakdown. A stunning track, and Hammerfall at their best! Poor Jesper, this song is better than anything he's written in years for In Flames! The cover of "My Sharona" is predictably silly, but then so was the original! Like the original, it's fun, and enjoyable to listen to. They didn't really change the song at all, it's pretty much a straight up cover of the original, which isnt a bad thing! It's not really necessary, but being placed at the album's end, it at least doesn't break up the flow of the album.

All in all, this is a very good album, and one of Hammerfall's best and most consistent. It is annoying though, because they still cant shake off the knack of allowing some filler onboard to bring the album down. However, in this case, the killer far outweighs the filler, and it contains some real trailblazing new Hammerfall classics! For fans of no frills, upfront good ol' heavy metal, this album comes highly recommended!

Occasionally fist pumping, otherwise flat - 60%

autothrall, May 9th, 2009

I have long stood on the fence about HammerFall. On the one hand, they're an extremely shallow recreation of 80s metal tropes often with the terrible lyrics to match. On the other hand, they're an extremely shallow recreation of 80s metal tropes, often with the terrible lyrics to match. Does this make sense? Regardless, there are occasionally HammerFall tracks that stand out, for example I still enjoy "Metal Age" from their debut. If you shut down your brain for awhile and just want to hear some pure heavy/power metal rooted in the classics (Judas Priest, Accept, Scorpions, and the earlier waves of Euro power metal), you could do a lot worse. Or you couldn't do any worse, depending on your perspective.

'No Sacrifice, No Victory' is the band's 7th full-length album, and not one of their best. "Any Means Necessary" is a pretty typical 'single' style track, with the beefy chorus line and an opening slew of Primal Fear/Judas Priest power metal guitars. "Life is Now" reminds me a lot of Twisted Sister in the chorus, though of course with the Cans range. "Punish and Enslave" rocks out, pure 80s metal, catchy and completely kicking the ass of the first two tracks. "Legion" has the standard European power metal anthem feel to it, but some nice old school Helloween melodic leads spice it up. "Between Two Worlds" is a forgettable power ballad, and "Hallowed be My Name" rocks as hard as "Punish and Enslave". The instrumental "Something for the Ages" has some fine moments if you fancy your neo-classical shred. The title track is also pretty catchy. The rest of the tracks are also forgettable, including the "My Sharona" cover. Come on people, do we really need ANOTHER metal cover of fucking "My Sharona"? It was better when Destruction did it almost 20 years ago, and even then it was lame.

A solid production as usual, the band creates the perfect vehicle for Joacim Cans melodic voice. I was pleasantly surprised that some of the lyrics here weren't as bad as usual, considering the band's repertoire they earn a passing grade. The downside is that with the exception of a few tracks, the album easily gets lost in the shuffle of far better bands playing melodic heavy metal. HammerFall always seems to play it by the numbers a little too closely, it feels like a heavy metal factory pumping out a stale formula with mixed results. I'd love to fist pump in the front row with fellow 'bangers to "Punish and Enslave" or "Hallowed be My Name", but there's nothing else here which tickled my metalbone.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Hearts on fire no more... - 7%

grimdoom, April 7th, 2009

It finally happened; Hammerfall has run completely out of ideas. Run of the mill, generic, boring, unsatisfying, etc... these words alone cannot sum up the tragedy that is here. Way back in 2000, Oscar went on Metal-rules.com to announce that the band was making a "sellout" album (Renegade) for the sake of getting more fans, and that they weren't going to change forever. Thankfully its follow-up and those that came after that proved his statement true, but this on the other hand, this is something entirely different. While not a sellout in so many words, its very, very bad.

The production is on par with what we heard on 'Threshold'. However unlike the aforementioned record this one has hardly anything of interest within. The guitars are heavy and bland. The melodies are expected and the leads are recycled. The solos are painfully weak. New comer Pontus can't hold a candle to Stefan. Coming from Hair Metal band 'The Poodles' one would expect him to be a master of guitar gymnastics, but he's just not up to snuff.

The bass (also provided by a new comer) is what we've come to expect from most Power Metal bands; a no frills following. Even the drums are standard. This is a shame considering that Anders is an incredible skinsman.

The vocals are a little more midrange than usual, perhaps Joacim's voice is fading and/or he doesn't want to try to pull off the higher vocals live. In any event, they almost sound tired.

This really is the bands worst album. There is no inspiration, no power and no feeling in these songs. Even the ballad is lame and out of place. Where is the energy, the fire and the passion of 'Glory to the Brave'? Where's the intensity of 'Legacy of King's'? Where's the truth of the 'Crimson Thunder'? Not everything about this album is bad, there are a few listenable songs, but this is more or less 98% filler.

They've gone beneath self plagiarism and just become a heavy Hair Metal band. This isn't darker, or heavier or anything else that’s been mentioned before, this is the band phoning it in. Whether they've lost their passion for this or just don't care is unknown but either way this isn't the quality that one expects from one of the best Power Metal bands today. Perhaps the last straw is their cover of "My Sharona". They are free to cover whom ever they choose, but this song is extremely annoying and their version isn't much better. This is a prime example of what a high priced cover band looks/sounds like. Time to hang it up guys.

Bring the metal down. - 89%

hells_unicorn, March 31st, 2009

Listening to Hammerfall can be likened to a once a year celebration held at an old Scandinavian castle, though the general tendency has been to hold this party every other year. The only real thing that separates it from your average get-together is that the patrons arrive on motorcycles, horses, or even dragon longboats fully clad in either armor or leathers. The music has a smiling, drinking song quality to it, particularly when accounting for the extremely catchy chorus delivery and the continual drive for simplicity while avoiding self-plagiarism in the musical department.

“No Sacrifice, No Glory” is another in the continuing line of 80s Judas Priest meets Accept with a slight helping of Manowar oriented metal glorification parties, sporting the same plate armored and cloaked warrior with his lightning hammer of iron. The celebration sees a slight change in attendance as Magnus Rosén has been replaced by the old bassist from “Glory To The Brave” Fredrik Larsson and Pontus Norgren has taken over the guitar duties once held by longtime axe slinger Stefan Elmgren. But the party loses nothing for the latter’s absence and actually sees an upping in the technical intrigue of the band’s lead section in comparison to the last 3 studio offerings. The production is polished to a shimmering shine and mostly resembles the slower, heavier character of “Renegade”, with some of the fanfare qualities of “Crimson Thunder” but a much more consistent flow.

The consistency of style is naturally maintained with few interludes into newer territory, as this album aims on slaying the ears with formulaic, ballsy, power metal in the old fashioned vain. Songs like “Any Means Necessary” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” keep it short and fill the arrangement with classic Accept style pounding mid-tempo riffs and raucous gang choruses. “Legion” refers back to the band’s older approach to fast songs, resembling heavily songs from the first two albums like “Dreamland” and “Steel Meets Steel”. Throughout these songs vocalist Joacim Cans shines pretty brightly, putting forth some of his strongest deliveries to date and bringing a little extra attitude to back up the overt metalness that the lyrics portray.

Newer territory is hit on some songs, although it is not too far away from what the band had already achieved on albums prior. The closing original song “One Of A Kind” is among the more epic songs heard out of the band, and also has a fairly complex opening riff. The ballad “Between Two Worlds” bears a huge resemblance to what they did on “Always Will Be” and “Dreams Come True”, but is kicked off with a pretty solid Baroque church organ intro that screams “Kings Of Metal” and generally listens closer to a Manowar ballad than any of their ballads since their debut album. Things wrap up with the band taking one of the stronger elements off of “Crimson Thunder” and doing a cover of “My Sharona”, which has been sexed up with a much heavier production and vocal delivery. During the chorus you start to feel sorry for Sharona though as the Hammerfall styled bass/baritone gang chorus makes you wonder if maybe the poor woman is about to be gang raped by a bunch of Viking invaders, but otherwise it’s a faithful metal rendition of a classic rock song.

Hammerfall is not, nor will they ever be about progression, so if you’re looking for innovation this is not the place to go. But if you have liked any past albums by this band or if you like NWOBHM injected power metal with the unapologetic ideology espoused by the almighty Manowar, this is a pretty worthy pickup. There are a few lead guitar moments on here and a guest slot by former Rising Force and current Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson that will probably appeal to guitar shred fans as well. The hammer has been raised, it has come down, and the resulting thud signals the triumph of metal over any and all forms of soft rock.

Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 31, 2009.

A shake-up! - 83%

Nightrunner, March 17th, 2009

The Swedish band playing German metal is once back again with a new album, this being their seventh studio album since ’97. Their last three full-lengths has variated quite a bit in quality, and is also their three weakest albums I think, with “Chapter V” being the lowest bottom. Therefore, I think that they moved a step forward with their last album “Threshold”, but that still without being a great album. Because it’s not. What I am happy to say though about this album, “No Sacrifice, No Victory”, is that it’s a step forward once again and is their best since “Renegade”. May also be their most variated.

We have heavy, mid-tempo songs in classic Accept/Judas Priest-honouring vibe in songs like “Any Means Necessary”, “Punish And Enslave” (Best here, and could’ve been on Accept’s “Balls To The Wall”-album) and “Hallowed Be My Name”. Faster, Power Metal-feeling in songs like “Legion” and “One of A Kind”. More melodic, and happier tunes in “Life Is Now” and the titletrack. One ballad and instrumental of course, and the obvious HF-stomper, this time titled “Bring The Hammer Down”. We also have the worst song ever feautured on a HF-album, the “My Sharona”-cover. Really damn awful and I can’t understand WHY it is on the album!

In overall I think it is in the heavier moments where this album is the best, which makes it a bit inconsistent, because all isn’t heavy. “Life Is Now” is the weakest of THEIR songs (“My Sharona” is a cover, remember). I cannot endure the soft and melodic vibe of the song. The pre-chorus and chorus is not pleasant. The instrumental “Something For The Ages” is actually really good and Pontus shows nice skills in his songwriting, may be a bit too long though. Still this band’s best instrumental in competition with “Raise The Hammer”. The ballad “Between Two Worlds” is their best in years, but on the other hand, the latest ones haven’t been good at all really. This one on here is OK. The titletrack starts out with a really good, memorable riff and has a simple yet great chorus. Sad that the rest of the song is very boring ad forgetable. Why didn’t they repeat the chorus at least one more time, I wonder. The rest of the songs are all good I think. “Legion” (great guitarwork all way through it) and “One Of A Kind” brings the feeling of older, classic HammerFall, and “Bring The Hammer Down” is a very simple and safe-playing song, but I like it.

Two new guys have jumped aboard since last album. As mentioned, new guitarist Pontus Norgren, and the former bassist Fredrik Larsson who has rejoined. How are they doing on here? A good job I’d say. Pontus is shredding the guitar nicely, and is a nice addition to the band (not that Stefan was bad at all). Pontus’ guitarsolos are really neat, classic metal soloing. Fredrik’s bassplaying is simple, but that’s how the bassplaying always have been in this band. It’s very well audible, groovy and nicely produced, though. Singer Joacim Cans does his best performance on any of their albums here. Sounding way much more mature and controlled. A great job. Drummer Anders Johansson is still hold very simple with his playing, which is sad as the drumming tend to be too simple and monotonous in the longrun. Anders is probably quite happy with the sound though, because there is good pounding in the drums. In overall the sound best and heaviest sound of any of their albums so far. A very groovy, and heavy production by Mr Charlie Bauerfiend, and the choirs sounds massive just like it should.

The album is a bit inconsistent, which of course lowers the score, but some of the good songs are very good...while some of the weaker are really bad. The guys have managed to do a great job in general when it comes to riffing, verses, soloing and heavy interludes. A bit weaker when it comes to pre-choruses and choruses. Could’ve been up there with “Legacy Of Kings” with a tad less filler and some better melodies. But still, we have a bit heavier and more riffocused HammerFall here, and the album still remains a good Heavy Metal-disc, and any fan of the genre should like much here.

3 best songs: “Punish And Enslave” - “Hallowed Be My Name” - “Legion”

Let The Hammer Fall... - 35%

Flamos, February 26th, 2009

Many have told me HammerFall has been going under since “Crimson Thunder.” I never really believed it, I mean sure they were straying from their normal format, but not enough to go into a complete transformation. “Chapter V” was a little darker lyrically, but I still found it enjoyable. “Threshold” wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t bad. I’ve been on forums and websites completely bashing this band, and I’ve always defended them. However, I can’t this time around, because “No Sacrifice, No Victory” is a horrible album. This is by far the bands worse to date. That’s hard for me to say because HammerFall have been one of my favorite bands for years, but this is unacceptable.

Well, the album starts off with a good track. “Any Means Necessary” is a solid song. It’s got the hook, which it’s truly the only real one found here. The guitar playing here is simple, at some point’s way too simple. The band has never been complex, but it shows bad here. The new lead guitar player Pontus Norgren brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Hell, maybe he does, but with this material you can’t tell. The guitar playing here isn’t that good at all, the drumming from Anders Johansson is all right, he does his job. Now, most will tell you that this is Joacim Cans best performance on any HammerFall record. I disagree, but it’s good here. But hey, no one really ever cares about this bands line-up anyway. “Between Two Worlds” is a ballad with boredom splattered all over it. It really doesn’t really sound like HammerFall actually.

Hey, do you remember the pop song “My Sharnoa” from the old days? Well, I’ve always disliked the track to be honest, and HammerFall covering it is very odd. It doesn’t help that they make it worse, and more annoying. “Bring the Hammer Down” is one of the average tracks on here, and being average on this album is like being good anyway. No, Hallowed Be My Name” isn’t an Iron Maiden cover. What a stupid name for a song… how about “Number of the Yeast?” or “The Bicker Man?” Anyway, this song isn’t anything special either. “Legion” has some potential, but it’s blown away with mediocrity.

Ugh, this really sucks. I was really looking forward to this album. Actually, this I one of the most of the most disappointing albums I’ve ever listened to. To all those who’ve always hated HammerFall… you’re wish has come true. The fall of the hammer has occurred. Avoid this by any means necessary.

A transitional effort. - 65%

Empyreal, February 25th, 2009

HammerFall as a band are kind of like the afternoon Kids WB action cartoon of Heavy Metal, being shamelessly watered down and censored, but still entertaining enough for the kids and harmless enough so as to not really offend anyone outside of the pizza-faced nerds who live for the comic book on which it was based. No Sacrifice, No Victory, however, is kind of like what the voice actors of said cartoon would go on to do right after the show went bottom-up, having done nothing but kiddy programs in the past and wanting to "expand their artistic horizons." So the end result comes out as darker and edgier, using a few swear words and a few darker themes that the parents of all the kids would balk at, but overall it ends up being kind of mediocre and faulty, not having enough merit to stand on its own. Maybe the makers will go on to better things, or maybe they will not.

That's what this album is like, basically. No Sacrifice, No Victory is the seventh HammerFall album, and it's a bit of a mixed bag, sounding sort of like the band took songs from three or four different albums the members had recorded separately and mashed them all together. We have a gamut of different sounds here, all of which sound okay on their own, but none of which really gel together as a whole as they did on, say, the last Edguy album - we've got speedy, neoclassical Power Metal, the traditional HammerFall stomping, a more hard rock oriented direction, and even a vaguely minstrel-sounding ballad. The band is obviously trying to progress forward here, with more varied music and darker, laughably religiously themed lyrics (is it supposed to be more mature...?), but they just don't seem to have the talent to do it and come out sounding really cut-rate. Oh well. At least this sort of late-in-the-game progression is more forgivable than that of CERTAIN OTHER *coughAxelRudiPellcough* BANDS WHICH I WON'T MENTION HERE.

We kick off with "Any Means Necessary," and I like this song; I really do. It's hooky, it's stomping and it's full of attitude, even though the riff might be more simple than your bare white wall. It's definitely something you can work out to, and one I'd enjoy seeing live. "Life Is Now," despite buying into every cliche in the Power Metal book, is also good, sounding like something Edguy or Firewind in their better days would write, with a catchy, layered chorus and a nice mid-paced stomp to go along with it. "Punish and Enslave," while sounding vaguely sexual, is a pretty okay song, although it is unmemorable, and then we kick into "Legion," which is the best song they've done since "On the Edge of Honor," with blazing leads and a killer, soaring chorus to boot. The ballad I mentioned is "Between Two Worlds," and it's good, although it sounds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE A HAMMERFALL SONG.

With that said, it is still the best ballad they have ever done.

"Hallowed Be My Name" is okay, a hard rocking mid-paced tune with a generic chorus and a pretty cool gunshot effect that breaks up the riffs; I like that kind of thing. "Something for the Ages" is my pick for best song on here, and to my surprise it is an instrumental - not usually something I enjoy a whole lot, but damn, HammerFall have got this down pat. The melodies here are soaring and rich, and the whole thing is just beaming with energy and ball-busting power that the band should have exercised more. They should have just ended the album there, as the title track blows, probably the worst song I've ever heard from them, with no hooks at all and a really boring rock beat on the drums. Next is "Let the Hammer Fa---oh, I'm sorry, I mean "Bring the Hammer Down", and it is about as generic as they come. Sure, guys. Keep on naming your songs stuff about hammers. That's really cool...seriously, did they put any thought into some of this shit? The songs' names are almost exactly the fucking same! Not that it matters, but still...there should be some kind of a medal for that.

"One of a Kind" about sums up the album as a whole, though, for better or worse. It's a pretty good little epic, with Joacim screaming out the chorus in the highest voice his ball-vice will allow, and the guitars soaring in a typical Power Metal manner. The less said about the "My Sharona" cover, the better. I'll just say this: it isn't pretty.

No Sacrifice, No Victory is a pretty fair album from these old vets, though; not too shabby, but not great either. Pretty much par for the course for them these days, but also with a little spice of innovation, which is always nice to see. The band are going somewhere after this, we just don't know where. This has all the markings of a transitional effort - so which path will the band choose? Find out next time on The Adventures of HammerFall! And don't do drugs, stay in school, et cetera.

Interesting Change - 98%

heavyrocker, February 19th, 2009

Almost a perfect masterwork, but beware if you are one of those hard die fans of old Hammerfall and don't want a change in their style maybe this is not your album, when I heard 2 years ago the "Threshold" album, I ran into my friends and told them about a possible change into the Hammerfall composing and singing structure, well at that moment someone told me that they still do the same sound, but as I have said this is the final proof.

Since the begining of the album you can see this is comming with more speed and more heavy that any other hammerfall album before, you can feel that there is a new Hammerfall if you want to put it that way, even the instrumental song "Something For The Ages" is something new in the band I mean 5 minutes instrumental in two beautiful leading guitars is awesome.

There's a new technical thing to notice in the voice of Joacim Cans, he has been taking classes I'm sure, because you have never see him singing like that, there's much of two genres in this new sound, you may listen melodies in the classic NWOBHM, but on the other side you can identify marches in the speed metal style, but it's still a power metal album.

Also you can find a catchy ballad called "Between 2 Worlds", that's something everyone expects in a Hammerfall album, lyrically the band still keep their focus on warriors, not many templars but war it's still the main subject, finally for the old "Renegade" sound fans there's a song for you too it's called "Legion"; we can say that Mr Norgren have been a factor in this new sound but I have been expecting this change since their last work.

Finally, this is the black spot of the album "My Sharona", I do like the classic rock song but this is a song that do not fit the rest of the album, my recommendation is to listen and prepare for the new Hammerfall.