Hammerfall – (R)evolution (2014) – Swedish power metal masters Hammerfall are back with a brand new album and a definite comeback in (R)evolution. There was no doubt in my mind that Infected was the worst album I’ve ever heard from the band, so you really have no idea how long I waited for a follow-up to that. But as I said, (R)evolution is a definite return to the band’s former glory, opening up with the grandiose “Hector’s Hymn 5:54” (for which a video was recently made) and continuing right on with such high watermarks like the triumphant “Bushido 4:41”, the anthemic “Live Life Loud 3:32” as well as other great pieces like “We Won’t Back Down 4:19” and the Game Of Thrones inspired “Winter Is Coming 3:49” which is actually a ballad, done in classic Hammerfall style. Apparently, people really didn’t enjoy anything after Threshold and it was beginning to seem as if the band’s best days were long behind it. (I still don’t know why there’s so much hate on MA regarding Crimson Thunder, as I fucking loved that album.) But like a shining beacon of hope, the (R)evolution rides valiantly like a battle-worn but steadfast warrior with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose. It seemed like they were really going to hang it up after Infected and I’ve never been disappointed by a power metal album as much as I had been that year; but after witnessing the bold leap in precision and clarity that the band have unleashed here, I truly think that (R)evolution will stand as one of their brightest moments. Twin guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgen shred up a storm, as Joacim Cans unleashes his best vocal performance since Glory To The Brave or Chapter V, if you think I’m getting too carried away. But nevertheless, the amount of wonderful melody and guitar showmanship on this record echoes everything about Hammerfall that I have always admired and respected. Hammerfall has been and always will be one of my favorite power metal bands of all time, so hearing them sound as triumphant as they did during the old days in 2014 certainly brings me hope for a brighter tomorrow. Of course, the deliciously evil riffs and atmosphere that make up “Evil Incarnate 4:36” feel reminiscent of one of my favorite Hammerfall tracks of late, “Legion” which continues to show me that the lyrics aren’t completely limited to warriors and victory. Even though those are definitely awesome things, which can’t be sung about enough. Definitely get your hands on this one, as it’s definitely one of the best power metal albums that I’ve heard all year. The kings have returned!
(11 Tracks, 47:00)