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Hammerfall - "(r)Evolution" (CD)

Hammerfall - "(r)Evolution" CD cover image

"(r)Evolution" track listing:

1. Hector's Hymn
2. (r)Evolution
3. Bushido
4. Live Life Loud
5. Ex Inferis
6. We Won't Back Down
7. Winter Is Coming
8. Origins
9. Tainted Metal
10. Evil Incarnate
11. Wildfire

Reviewed by on July 14, 2014

"HammerFall has given you exactly what you wanted – a return to passionate and glorious cheese so you must 'Live Life Loud.'"

When it comes to power metal, it seems there are three tiers of fans: that haters, the lovers, and the indifferent. When it comes to HammerFall, there are two tiers of fans: the dripping admirers and the loathers. Each side alternates, especially if the band decides to recapture some of its original “Glory to the Brave” mojo. When the announcement of the new album “(r)Evolution” came down with words from vocalist Joacim Cans about “returning to the roots” the current tiers flipped and there were cries for glory from the old faithful (coupled with groans of “it better be”) and the eye rolling of non-power metal fans of “here we go again.”

It seems HammerFall will never be able to find complete fan unity, but guess what? The band doesn't care. Frankly, the “stick to your guns” attitude is a lot better than a band pretending to be something it isn't. With “(r)Evolution,” Hammerfall took it all back to where it started and unapologetically boasted: “this is who we are.” While it’s not a “perfect album,” the effort really shows, as the album flexes Hector’s muscles and brings back the old magic and glory and the tried and true.

So what can you expect? The HammerFall of old – complete with molten seas of cheese, muscular riffs, and catchy “pride of the warrior” choruses. The “infection” is over, though I never really truly understood the explicit hatred expressed for the last album. For the fans there since “Glory of the Brave,” this is exactly the album you have been clamoring for. For progressive metal fans… you can start rolling your eyes now at the simplicity of it all. For extreme metal fans... quickly scamper for your Behemoth albums. For the older HammerFall fans that just cannot seem to be happy no matter what comes out… well, there is just no pleasing you.

In addition to the welcome return of Andreas Marschall for the cover artwork, which again features the now famous HammerFall mascot, the opening tribute “Hector’s Hymn” brings back the old with a refreshed perspective. Within the first 3 seconds after the short intro, the speed hits you hard and suddenly you “remember yesterday.” “The fallen one(s)” have arisen and “let the hammer fall.” Will you “heed the call?” Well the title track will bring back some of that old charm glory with its building intro that dives into a catchy little riff and big bolstering chorus. Its strength is its simplicity of style. The speedier numbers tend to be the most engaging for your author, which includes “We Won’t Back Down” and the album’s two best tracks “Origins” and the hyper rapid “Wildfire.”

As for the performances and production, its top notch (and perhaps a little overproduced for purists). Joacim has thankfully cleared out his sinuses that clogged on recent releases, recapturing some of his older and much cleaner glory days. Fredrik Nordstrom is back as producer and is clear that he has reset the band to the days of “Legacy of Kings.” Lyrically, I can see the eye rolling…with the return to kings, glory, metal, warriors and ninja. Despite what those images may drum up for many fans, HammerFall always has a positive message, but I’m sure lyrical content in songs like “Tainted Metal” and “Live Life Loud” won’t come as a shock to either longtime fans or haters.

“(r)Evolution” is an uprising of old and represents a reset for the band that would stylistically fall somewhere between “Legacy of Kings” and “Crimson Thunder.” The material is refreshed and catchy without being overdone and drab. The band’s decision to stick to what it is good at and what made the group famous was a sound decision. Of course, there will be certain fans of Hammerfall that will never be satisfied unless a time machine is built to transport their physical beings to catch up with the late 90’s mentality. I cannot imagine any reason how any longtime fans would be disappointed. HammerFall has given you exactly what you wanted – a return to passionate and glorious cheese so you must “Live Life Loud.”

Highs: A refreshed return to the styles of the band's late 90's releases.

Lows: For extreme metal fans and those sick of typical power metal, this is a yawn fest.

Bottom line: HammerFall's new "(r)Evolution" has (d)Evolved back to the late '90's.....rejoice!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)