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Hammerfall - Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken - 2005 - Nuclear Blast

Track Listing
1. Secrets
2. Blood Bound
3. Fury Of The Wind
4. Hammer Of Justice
5. Never, Ever
6. Born To Rule
7. The Templar Flame
8. Imperial
9. Take The Black
10. Knights Of The 21st Century
I'm not a fan of this title. I hate the whole chapter thing, with one of my favorite power metal units, Metalium, using the chapter thing for each of their records. I guess it makes sense, but I really don't like to look at a band's career in chapters. Instead I like to focus on the individual, which leaves me to look directly at "Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken", a suitable secondary title that really sums up these Swedish hotshots. The band just keeps marching, moving forward into familiar territory, but taking their own strides with careful consideration, making sure that each step is remembered in it's own way. Perhaps the band has achieved too much over five albums, with tours all over the universe and a recent road trip with metal icon Ronnie James Dio. Love them or hate them, Hammerfall have worked wonders for the power metal genre, opening up doors and building bridges for a new generation. Now they are out of the ice again, resurrected with a brand new record and a promise of something a little different this time around.

With one listen to the band's new record you can hear a sense of maturity in their sound. After repeated listens I can hear a few different things, a touch of something a bit more aggressive. The influence could have certainly carried over from vocalist Joacim Cans' recent solo output, which was by far the heaviest thing I have heard the man involved with. With that heavy, groove oriented style, Cans has somewhat transformed Hammerfall, bringing them up to speed with the likes of Brainstorm, Primal Fear, Sinner, and even Mystic Prophecy. The group seems to go at it a little less happy, with the mood of the record certainly not sadistic or angry, but still somewhat dark, showing off the band in a little less light. Of course the album is extremely polished, sounding machine like at times, much like previous Hammerfall records. This seems to be an element that throws some listeners, the connect-the-dots makeup that seems to make the band sound "too good", as if everything fits together too well. Sometimes a band needs raw features, but with bands in the power metal genre I have always been attached to that flawless soundscape.

The first song that really comes to mind as far as different approach or method is "Fury Of The Wind", a new wave piece that recalls Mercyful Fate. Cans hits some of his highest notes here, with the whole track moving with a sinister groove, at times recalling the same sound recently made famous by Wolf. The aggressive tone I was describing earlier can be found on "Blood Bound", a cut that sways with a huge stomp riff, really sounding like something off of Cans' solo album. The big chorus part is still intact, a signature of Hammerfall, but with this particular arrangement the chorus just sounds a bit more vicious than usual. The same can be said for the powerful opener "Secrets". One of metal's most famous villains, Kronos, stops by to lend a hand with the risky "Knights Of The 21st Century", a rather atmospheric closer that really doesn't seem to break into any sort of rhythm. As always the wimpy ballad finds it's way through, this time in the form of "Never, Ever". Fans of "Renegade" and "Legacy Of Kings" will really enjoy "Take The Black", "Hammer Of Justice", and "The Templar Flame".

"Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken" is another fabulous entry in the Hammerfall franchise. The band's attention to detail is just amazing, with so many little things perfected before sending these to press. Cans and company really show off a new side and delivering what has to be their heaviest album to date. Much like "Crimson Thunder", the group seems to have found a new direction, a slightly heavier code of honor. Fitting that the group will tour with Edguy to support this record, with Germany's premier metal band going through this same transformation with "Hellfire Club", an aggressive shift for them as well.


--EC 04.30.05




ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Hammerfall deos everything too close to the 'How To Do Power Metal Book'. I found it to be professional, but boring and without spark. --Nailer
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: HAMMERFALL
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
(r)EvolutionHammerFall
2014
Eric Compton10/23/2014
Built to LastHammerFall
2016
Eric Compton12/20/2016
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, UnbrokenHammerFall
2005
Eric Compton5/5/2005
Crimson ThunderHammerFall
2002
Eric Compton1/21/2003
InfectedHammerFall
2011
Eric Compton10/20/2011
InfectedHammerFall
2011
Chris Kincaid6/3/2011
No Sacrifice, No VictoryHammerFall
2009
Hail and Kill5/15/2009
Steel Meets Steel: 10 Years Of GloryHammerFall
2008
Eric Compton3/13/2009
ThresholdHammerFall
2006
Eric Compton10/4/2006


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: HAMMERFALL

No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: HAMMERFALL
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
Anders JohanssonHammerFallChris Galea5/25/2006


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