Company: Nuclear Blast Release: 2014 Genre: Power Reviewer: Eric Compton
Speedy power metal exercises
After seven albums over a fourteen year span, Hammerfall, also known as Sweden's Manowar, altered their traditional sound with the 2011 release ‘Infected'. Unfortunately that album was panned by the band's faithful followers, criticized for its modern arrangements and scorned for the lack of the group's mascot, Hector, from the album cover. Power metal enthusiasts pledge allegiance to their chosen Gods and ‘Infected' questioned their vows. Personally, I felt ‘Infected' was a much needed change of pace after the same formula year after year. The record had a thick bottom heavy production to accompany the darker subject matter. In many ways the band was attempting to replicate the heavier Joacim Cans' 2004 solo record, ‘Beyond the Gates'. The fans rebelled, had their way and now three years later Hammerfall and their fan base find themselves cornered. '(r)Evolution' is essentially like selecting random play on the band's first seven records. The speedy power metal exercises are in full force, complete with the gang vocal melodies and dungeon and dragon songwriting. Even Hector himself returns to grace fans and critics alike with his rigid stature. Is this a good thing though--repeating the same formula year after year, album after album? The band find themselves in an awkward predicament; carry on with the same tried and true routine, pleasing fans and wallets or go against the grain and create music that challenges the band and adds diversity to a rather one-dimensional discography. '(r)Evolution' is a decent record, but is it a blessing or a curse? You be the judge.