Released: 2005, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Evil Rocker
This is the fifth full-length album by HammerFall since 1997's GLORY TO THE BRAVE (which I still point to as the single biggest factor leading to the resurgence of metal in the late 1990's), of whom I am a fan. I have strong respect for Oscar and all he has done, especially the regard he gives the metal roots of the 1980's.
But I must admit that ever since LEGACY OF KINGS the band continues to disappoint. Not to say that they are putting out garbage because they are not! HammerFall is a solid traditional metal band that has sadly been negatively affected by over-production that leaves much flatness in many tracks. The end-result is that on every album since RENEGADE (2000) I find some nice tracks, a few bad tracks, and A LOT of material that does not stand out beyond anything beyond average. They have become a band that seems to crave commercial success. I do not call them sell-outs because they still play metal and they play a true form. Yet it is now often a soft and flaccid form. Oddly, their ballads seem to be the best of what they do these days. Here the track "Never Ever" is good.
Their hit "Blood Bound" is also a good track with a neat video (despite what detractors say), "Born to Rule" is also a nice song. Using Cronos from Venom on "Knights of the 21st Century" might have seemed like a good idea in concept but hearing him and Cans do a duet is more than somewhat nauseating. The rest is well, average.
If I had some advice for HammerFall, it would be to scrap the over production, go into a small unsophisticated studio, and play some raw metal. The material is already there, the spirit is already there, but the end product after all the production & mastering has dulled down the metal to just tolerable levels.