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HammerFall
No Sacrifice, No Victory
May 2009
Released: 2009, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

HammerFall are all about consistency. For that reason, you either love them or you don’t. Since I’m a fan of traditional metal, I lap it up and cannot fathom why everyone who likes straight up heavy metal isn’t a huge fan! With NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY I was curious to see how having two of the band members replaced would impact the band. With bassist Magnus Rosen packing it in bassist Fredrik Larsson returns. He was in HammerFall for their glorious GLORY TO THE BRAVE (1997) debut. The other switch-up is that long time lead guitar player, Stefan Elmgren, threw in the towel sometime in 2007 and was replaced by Pontus Norgren. Pontus is clearly a worthy replacement as the technical playing ability and style fits and will not rock the boat.



The album begins with the mid-tempo “Any Means Necessary” which has some of the deep group chant vocals on the chorus, which rears its head all throughout the album. I can’t imagine the chorus will sound as impressive live, but it sounds great nonetheless. The song is also the first “single” since it has a video available already. “Life is Now” follows and is actually a slightly different style for the band. No worries, it’s still metal, just with a bit more groove. The line “my life is not a fashion” is the war cry of the song and it’s clear these guys are no poseurs as they live and breathe metal so it’s not like singing about it is cliché for them. Track 3, “Punish and Enslave” starts with huge Accept riffling and a pumping bass line, total 80’s metal happening here. “Legion” starts out with a cheesy demon voice (a la “hell fuckin yeah…the prophecy” as we heard on CHAPTER V). After the intro the tempo finally picks up. Yeah I know HammerFall are not all about fast songs as their more recent albums have been somewhat lacking in speed, but it’s nice when things pick up! But hold on, there’s more fast songs on the album thankfully….but not yet. Next is the ‘skip to next song’ filler track called “Between Two Worlds”. I’ve only heard this song from beginning to end once, it’s quite boring, slow, and goes nowhere. Boring strumy acoustic guitars….kill me…next. “Hallowed Be My Name” will jolt ya back if you actually listened through the ballad. Huge riff, big drums, urge to headbang rises…. “Something For the Ages” is something for the guitar-heads as it’s an instrumental and gets to showcase the guitar playing of “the new guy”. The album’s title track is typical mid-paced yet still awesome enough. “Bring the Hammer Down” is more classic sounding HammerFall with perhaps the best chorus on the album. Another of the album’s best tracks follows with “One of a Kind”. This sounds exactly like it could be from either of the first 2 albums. After reading up on it, I shouldn’t be surprised as IN FLAMES guitarist Jesper Strömblad co-wrote it! He was a member of HammerFall in the band's early days, and IMO should co-write with them more often. The song’s flaw is the clean breakdown in the middle which ruins the flow. The solo in this one totally rips though, sounds like some slight wah on the lead. As if HammerFall’s MASTERPIECES wasn’t enough of covers, the album closer provides us with another cover. But who cares, it’s only one song on the whole album, and I do enjoy their take on the song. It’s nothing new, but it’s metalled up just enough to win me over.



HammerFall continues to make no sacrifice and give no compromise. This is what they play, 80’s influenced heavy metal. As for a sign of victory…well I think the band has already won over plenty abroad, and new signs of their growth in North America are reflected with their landing in the North American Heatseekers (oddly for new and developing artists who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200) charts.



Killer: “Any Means Necessary”, Punish and Enslave”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, “Something for the Ages”, “Bring the Hammer Down”, and “One of a Kind”

Filler: “Between Two Worlds”
Track Listing

1. Any Means Necessary
2. Life Is Now
3. Punish and Enslave
4. Legion
5. Between Two Worlds
6. Hallowed Be My Name
7. Something for the Ages
8. No Sacrifice, No Victory
9. Bring the Hammer Down
10. One of a Kind
11. My Sharona (The Knack cover)

Lineup

Joacim Cans - Lead and backing vocals
Oscar Dronjak - Rhythm, Lead Guitars and backing vocals
Anders Johansson - Drums
Pontus Norgren - Rhythm, Lead Guitars and backing vocals
Fredrik Larsson - Bass and backing vocals


Next review: » HammerFall - One Crimson Night (Live)
Previous review: » HammerFall - Legacy of Kings





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