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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”