Company: Nuclear Blast Release: 2008 Genre: Power Reviewer: EC
Anthem after anthem of heavy metal authority
The critics have really had their way with this mighty group of Swedish youngsters. Most metal scribes have condemned the band on every shore, criticizing the group for rehashing the early 80s heavy metal scene with album after album of traditional "steel meets steel". Hammerfall have been ridiculed, mocked, and at times verbally and physically assaulted by ravaged fans that feel the band are posers and unworthy of the mounds of success heaved on the band since 1997.
I clearly remember the first time I heard the name Hammerfall. It was late 1997 and I had pretty much burned through the back catalogues of Megadeth, King Diamond, Metallica, Testament, and the black metal caves of Bathory, Venom, Burzum, and Emperor. As a late bloomer to the metal crusade circa 1992, I really didn't get to experience the wonderful theatrics of 80s traditional metal in the forms of Maiden, Priest, Saxon, Savatage, etc. I needed an introduction to that type of metal clarity before fully embracing it.
In came Hammerfall's debut "Glory To The Brave". That album featured In Flames guitarist Jesper Strombland on drums and I immediately bought it thinking I had on my hands something akin to the Gothenburg melodic death scene. Boy was I wrong.
Instead of growling vocals and wild double bass anxiety I got crisp, clean, and polished metal showmanship. Joacim Cans was an amazing singer and the writing was anthem after anthem of heavy metal authority. Sure I had a taste of those 80s sounds with the Bay Area moshings of the time, but young ears had never really heard anything so traditional. That album had a tremendous following, overwhelming sales, and kick started a huge career for the band. After "Glory To The Brave" was released hundreds and hundreds of bands got on board and released power metal albums. That one record would probably be the main reason why bands like Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy, and Pegazus even saw US CD releases. Prior to that point most of your power metal resided in the import section under labels like Noise, GUN, and Drakkar. Finally the power metal scene became global and absolutely exploded.
HAMMERFALL IS THE REASON WHY.
"Steel Meets Steel: 10 Years Of Glory" is exactly that. This compilation features tracks from all six of the band's albums thus far including three new cuts, a few updated recordings of past classics, and some B-sides. Nuclear Blast pulled the trigger on some expensive packaging, throwing in 2 mammoth CDs packed with choice tunes, a thick booklet with plenty of photos and liner notes, and two flattering articles from Rock Hard's Gotz Kuhnemund and Metal Hammer Germany's Andreas Schowe. This is the perfect companion piece for Hammerfall fans and a great introductory tool for new fans.
Note - The band are releasing a new album entitled "No Sacrifice, No Victory" in early 2009.
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.
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