Built to Last
12/20/2016 - Review by: Eric Compton
Hammerfall continue to metal on year after year
People are going to say what they want about long time vets Hammerfall. Love 'em or hate 'em, at the end of the day they continue to work harder than most and have supportive fans for a reason. These Swedes continually put out fresh material and tour nearly nonstop. I've met them and enjoyed two live performances over the years. They are a riot live. Great entertainers. Enough said about the band's validity. Yet the band's detractors have a good argument. The band arguably hasn't changed their style much over the course of twenty years and ten records. 'Built to Last' isn't doing anything to sway that argument.
The album is the first Hammerfall record of their career to be released on a label other than Nuclear Blast. Napalm swings in and picks the group up for this release (a costly acquisition I bet). The album is mixed/mastered by Studio Fredman with Cans' vocals done in L.A. Session drummer David Wallin (Pain) fills in for the album, replacing longtime drummer Anders Johansson.
The band's first single, "Hammer High", threw me immediately into the land of "Yuck". The self-indulgent anthem did little to convince me that this was a better record than say...'Threshold' or 'No Sacrifice, No Victory', two very average albums. Yet with the whole thing fully digested there was plenty of comfort food found. Opener "Bring It" starts off with a bang and delivers a decent fast pace with a rather lazy chorus. It's okay as "Dethrone and Defy" and "Stormbreaker" continue that streak but with slightly improved vocals and arrangement. The title track throws out tons of unity, the gang vocals emphasizing the heavy groove and gallop. "New Breed" is total Accept worship (or is it Hammerfall worship at this point?) while "Star of Home" is another fast-paced winner. The throwaway? Utter nonsense like "Twilight Princess", the obligatory Hammerfall ballad that demands to skip.
You could do better with bands that push the envelope a little further. The end result is another quality output from a band that continues to work hard, albeit faster, not smarter. I'm okay with it. Pass me the next Grave Digger album. I'm that kinda mophead.
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