Hammerfall - (r)Evolution

Hammerfall (r)Evolution cover
Nuclear Blast
Hammerfall return in 2014 after a short break and an album that was if anything a bit of a “failure” as they tried to shed the Helloween clone style in favor for a more modern and Rammstein influenced hybrid that wasn’t too well received, probably halting their rise and halving their sales… as I were working in a distro at the time – I know that the boxes of NB products mention – the totals of how many of each product is made so the previous album was made definitely in less quantities, that its predecessors as the company was in doubt whether the shift would work and wanted to be sure, they would not press useless copies in advance.
“(r)Evolution”, sees the band return to the their usual sound and style – cheesy as ever and never able to replicate the brilliance and spontaneity of their first couple of albums... yet able to somewhat mimic their style soundwise as they seem to be using the same old “tired” but tried riffs and gang vocals as well as choirs and every other trick in the book of power metal to build their songs…
“Hector’s Hymn” is a fast-tempo rocker that tries to recount the bands career and has a very silly video, that will make you immediately cringe upon watching it, but while it ain’t the worse thing the band has ever done, it somehow manages to spoil the rather OK chorus, by not managing to couple one of the lines, so as to rhyme, thus, sounding rather “odd”. You’ll notice that it, sounds rather, bizarrely, out of place, sticking out, rather like a sore thumb, in the middle of the song… of which it bares the title… they could have maybe called it that but avoided mentioning the line altogether I guess!
The title track “(r)Evolution” is a mid-pace number that on the other hand, begins to rhyme almost, every-word that the band came up with, I guess, which is also a bit messy… while it ain’t bad and it has some interesting parts here and there it’s just one nice riff here and one nice vocal melody there, the whole track is not as good as the sum of its parts im(ns)ho.
“Bushido” is possibly the first time the band, gets it “completely” right on this album… in an epic mid-tempo that gets a climaxing chorus to unfurl and Cans even sounding more manly and mean than usually, in the verses – the chorus obviously is another story... there’s a rather bubbly and not completely impressive solo, but it sort of gets the job done and the whole song gets the choruses reprising after chanter choir parts that are rather impressive... Not bad, not bad at all then this one and justly chosen as a single, as well.
“Live Life Loud” supposedly has this biker/rocker philosophy – motto and a nice enough riff and Cans, begins the song coming on with some “vocal” prowess that seems to have been left unharnessed from before and waits to be unleashed here... but it never quite happens really... the song kind of falls flat on its face, just repeating the chorus over and over and becoming boring pretty fast.
“Ex Inferis” is a positive improvement with its muscular mid-tempo rhythm and even if the whole “seven deadly sins” theme has been done before and maybe to death from maybe a lot of people, the whole way the band does it, makes an interesting enough song in their style that’s definitely a worthy addition to their catalog. A minor winner here.
“We Won’t Back Down” is a fast enough song that is not bad, per ce, but can’t hold up as “prime” material. It’s not filler, but it’s a song that you’d not skip on a perfect album. On this album that is not exactly full of “highlights” it doesn’t exactly do much to help the album as an entirety, well at least it’s not the kind of tune that drags it down either...
Like “Winter is Coming”... which is the obligatory ballad, as uninspired as its title... Obviously composed over on a piano. The only thing that’s good about it, is Cans singing which is solid, because otherwise, it’s both boring as a composition and going nowhere. Even the short solo seems to have been sort of placed there “randomly”, because a lead part, had to go there… a very uninspired effort...
“Origins” has this interesting in only rather silly keyboard intro, with fake folk elements, to just follow up a very predictable buildup into a semi decent power metal mid-tempo number, actually one of the few that are enjoyable enough once one oversees the slight imperfections and stops smiling viciously at the “acapella” sung chorus, efforts of Cans… oh dear...
“Tainted Metal” – didn’t they taint things enough with the previous album… oh well. This is a rather interesting number, with a rather faster tempo and a biting riff, actually this style is I think the best the band could follow… if they could come up with enough songs like this… albeit the chorus on this one is a little rotten... it reminded me of the Stormwitch stuff the band had covered and the more dynamic 80s bands that would have a slight dose of thrash in their riffs...
“Evil Incarnate” has also decent riffs and Cans attempting another “slightly different” style… that’s not too bad, the break and lead hear sound a little peculiar of all things, a little too eerily melodic, when one would expect them to sound melodic but more “evil” and sinister... it’s funny, but it’s like listening to the totally “wimpy” little kid brother of Candlemass maybe… they are sort attempting to build a similar melody here... listen to the closing parts it’s quite evident.
With “Wildfire” I thought, uh-oh, here we go, those electronics-hit, from the previous album, but very quickly the song cleaned up and past the intro, it developed into a pretty nightmarish semi-evil thing… hell, is this the same – lame band that writes the other “boring tracks” because this ain’t too bad, you know?
I think there’s a good band in Hammerfall, and it’s trying to get out... it’s a case of loss of identity and that was very evident by their previous album… the fact that they took the time to clean up their heads and that they are experimenting… is healthy… ehm… let’s see what the “necropsy” will show… figuratively speaking of cours! I hope they manage to figure out which direction they really want to take... I think the more “real” metal fits them more than the “wimpy” power metal, they can obviously do both, but they seem more at home with the stronger material towards the end... I dunno... maybe this “(r)Evolution”, could have used another couple of development cycles before release I guess, but now it’s too late… ah, next time…