REVIEW: HAMMERFALL – “Built To Last”
Once upon a time, there was a group of warriors who called themselves the ‘Templars of Steel’; with a stone cold heart and a renegade attitude, they went on a crusade to resurrect the heydays of the metal age by heeding the call of the brave and kept the flame burning for a long time, giving hope to those who were aching for the golden age of heavy metal to return. These warriors were destined for glory, and they always would be.
They were born to rule, and so they did, for more than a decade. Lighting the Templar flame high above the clouds, they faced many challenges, and when steel met steel these brave paladins conquered all with an unforgiving blade, riding the storm with the crimson thunder through the thresholds of time. Blood bound, they seemed unstoppable and reached the end of the rainbow with their hearts on fire, ready for anything. Rosén and Elmgren, two of the best and most noble warriors of them all, were injured in battle and decided to part ways with their brothers, leaving the alliance fragile. Larsson, one of the first Templars, returned to help their brothers and Norgren, proficient axeman and wizard of sound, stepped in for the charismatic Elmgren. But one day, it all seemed strange, like there was something missing; they kept going using any means necessary to do so, but something had infected them. Their guardian, Hector, was equally affected and had to step out of battle to recover. Battered and bruised, they paused the eternal search for the spirit of true heavy metal and retired themselves to meditate and heal.
And then, one winter later, the Templars got together once again in the spirit of revolution, hoping for a powerful return to origins. A little rusted, they managed to perform better than their last battles, but this new endeavor was just a way for them to detoxify from all the bad omens that were haunting the crusade. This time, though, they will prove once again that the Templars of steel were ‘Built to Last’; their swords are sharper, their minds are clearer and their hammers are high.
One of the most beloved and prominent bands of the new generation of metal is back with full force. Hammerfall will release their 10th full length album on November 4th – first one via Napalm Records –, completing their return to form started with ´(r)Evolution’ in 2014. Longtime buddies Joacim Cans and Oscar D
“Dethrone and Defy” speeds up the album and reminisces some of the denser vibes of the band, maybe something between what we’ve seen in ‘Crimson Thunder’ and ‘Threshold’. Riff-driven, the track maintains the good quality of the album. The ballad “Twilight Princess” comes next, and it’s absolutely gorgeuous: starting with just an acoustic guitar and Joacim Cans’ voice, the sound builds itself into an emotional and magical journey to a sad story. Without exaggeration, this stands as tall as classic ballads by the band such as “Always Will Be”, “Remember Yesterday”. It’s obviously not as good as the transcendental “Glory to the Brave”, but you get the idea. “Stormbreaker” shows the traditional vein so beloved in Hammerfall’s sound, with a marvelous riff and a sped-up chorus. “Built to Last” is yet another of those ‘fists up high’ tunes with a cadenced construction; this song could be easily featured in ‘Crimson Thunder’. “The Star of Home” is a faster track with glimpses of power metal, being one of the happier songs of the album. Joacim delivers a great performance here, especially at the chorus, proving that almost 20 years of activity haven’t hurt his pipes at all. And then comes “New Breed”; A clear homage to the sound of Accept, illustrated by the guitar lines and atmosphere, especially, the song is an ode to every metal band out there. Please, please, hear this song as much as you can and absorb the message: young or old, classic or modern, the bands and the fans are all the same in the heavy metal community and all of us support the same ideas and culture. Closing the album is “Second to None”, the most epic song of the bunch. Is slowly builds from a ballad to the darker song featured in the album, relying heavily in keyboard arrangements and Joacim’s voice.
As you can see, the Templars of steel rise from the darkness and slay their demons once and for all with ‘Built to Last’. Clearly a return to the classic sound, the band successfully gathered all the missing elements we loved so much from the first records and, allied to a refreshing sensation and the joy to play music by the band members, turned this into a very, very good heavy metal album, well worthy of the Hammerfall name. If you are used to reading my reviews, you know that I don’t just give away high ratings, so believe me, ‘Built to Last’ deserved every point here. So grab your swords and shields, join the Swedish Templars in yet another crusade to reach heavy metal supremacy and let the hammer fall.