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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.