HAMMERFALL – Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken

HAMMERFALL - Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken


Nuclear Blast
Release date: March 2, 2005

User Review
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The Swedish self-proclaimed “Templars of Steel,” were one of the first bands of the NWOE(MG,S,AI)HAPMBWLOFAEBUNTMC (New Wave Of European (Mostly German, Swedish, and Italian) Heavy And Power Metal Bands With Lots of Flair And Energy But Not Too Much Creativity in the mid – to – late nineties, and has definitely had a huge impact on the scene since then. Their German-style Power Metal kick started a major trend in Modern Metal, with zillions of bands copying them and their idols Helloween, Accept, Judas Priest, and such.

Hammerfall has never been original, but at least their first two albums, Glory to the Brave and Legacy of Kings, were very entertaining and 2002’s Crimson Thunder was a step back on track after the disappointing Renegade.

This is their fifth studio album, and not surprisingly, this is once again more of the same. The riffs, chord progressions, vocal lines and lyrics – it’s all in there, and to some extent, it works very well. When bands rely so much on well-known tricks and twists, the song writing has to be up to par, and for the most part it is. The pairing of Oscar Dronjak (guitars) and Joacim Cans (vocals) definitely has the ability to make old ideas sound (sufficiently) fresh, and they are not far from doing it again.

The album starts of strong – the opener “Secrets” is very good, with a cool verse/main riff, and a hymn-like chorus. “Blood Bound” is a short and melodic tune (great single-material), and the album’s ace, “Fury of the Wild,” is an up-tempo, Accept-style riffer with a great, melodic chorus. Neither “Hammer of Justice,” “Born to Rule,” nor the ballad “Never, Ever,” are bad either, although especially the latter is almost hideously cliched … but that’s about it. “The Templar Flame” is just too much with its galloping groove and pre-teen Helloween backyard demo-tape chorus, and “Take The Black” is way too anonymous. “Knights Of The 21st Century” (obviously we finally have a worthy opponent for Rhapsody in the funny song title competition), the epic 12 minute closing track, never really gets at you. The melodies are not strong enough, the choirs sound cheap, and it almost ends up boring in the end.

The band is solid as usually, but seldom exceeds that term. The guitar solos are, at times, frighteningly unoriginal – some of the two-hand tapping parts are downright embarrassing – but the riffing sounds steady, and the album is definitely headbanger friendly. Cans’ vocals too sounds quite good, and although he has a wide vocal range, he sounds best when he stays in the parts of it where he’s most comfortable. “Fury of the Wild” and “Never Ever” are vocal highlights.

Overall the album is definitely good, but not the kick-ass record you’d probably expect. Still, the boys continue to play dead-honest Heavy Metal, and kudos for that.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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