Company: Nuclear Blast Release: 2011 Genre: Power Reviewer: EC
Does just enough to sway the listener
Hammerfall have now become the Running Wild of Sweden. Fourteen years later, a global metal run and endless songs of dragons, outlaws and the forging of the metal fires have nailed down the very essence of power metal. Like Germany's run of true as steel metal by numbers, Sweden is fast approaching that dreadful state of affairs of "enough already". Still I'm grabbing it all and hanging on tight; some Swedes just permeating the frost with a variety of great ideas and sound recording logic. Hammerfall is a convoluted idea that demands respect at even the most novice stage but still is a mean machine of grooves, hooks and damn catchy songwriting. So brings us platter number "who's counting anyway" and we have "Infected".
The band go back to the states to record in Nashville, TN with producer James Michael (Motley Crue, Scorpions, Meatloaf). This isn't a first for the band, "Renegade" was produced in Nashville as well with famed producer Michael Wagener. Hammerfall do something a little different with the skins, filling out their beats at Bohus Studios by Tobias Lindell, the same venue used most recently by Hardcore Superstar. Fans are in an uproar with the band's slightly new logo and the absence of the group's mascot "Hector" and pre-listening sessions in Europe went as far as to say this is the "Hammerfall of the future" ...misleading me to believe that the band had matured and FINALLY have changed their sound a degree.
After numerous plays of "Infected" I'm party pissed that the band didn't do enough things to modify their sound but still pleased that enough alteration was made to advance the band's longevity and cash in another solid outing. "Infected" is not the best Hammerfall album but it still shows off enough variation and character to make this the best album in nine years. The group focus on a calculated formula of heavier strokes, speedy bits and an overall down-tuned vibe that really pushes the limits.
The album starts with a really interesting "audio visual" that sounds like something out of "The Stand" before exploding into lead off "Patient Zero". Right up front you can hear the down-tuned riffing and the overall heavier vibe from the band. Things go sour with the Euro sub-par "Bang Your Head" and later with the uninspired "Outlaw" and "Let's Get It On". It is this type of songwriting and arrangement that is just imitation of earlier Hammerfall days and yet another recreation of Warlord, Stormwitch and Helloween of the 80s. However broad strokes are made with the bass heavy "I Refuse" (mature writing) and "Dia De Los Muertos". I really like the way the band mix some of these songs up, never quite staying on formula but adding some faster mid sections and quick punchy power in just the right places. Sure the sappy ballads are still here and the band even throw in a keyboard driven epic but overall their are a handful of great songs and a few solid cuts to make this a success.
"Infected" most definitely isn't the Hammerfall of the future and really doesn't do anything in the way of innovation or advancement in technique but still does just enough to sway the listener in 2011. That is a sure sign of longevity and good business...the reason why this band is on major tours in Europe and still pounding the festivals with a dedicated fanbase of mopheads.
Bandsite: www.hammerfall.net Company Link: www.nuclearblast.de Cover Link: http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/data/bands/hammerfall/releases/hammerfall.infected.ii.jpg?x=330&y=330
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 contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. 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. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details