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October 2014
Released: 2014, Nuclear Blast Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

(r)EVOLUTION is album number nine for Hammerfall, one of our most loved bands here on Metal Rules. Some people say that Hammerfall ‘saved Metal’. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but most critics agree that GLORY TO THE BRAVE in 1997 is an incredibly important album in the evolution of Metal, helping spearhead the massive ‘true/classic/traditional Metal scene that thrives across the globe to this very day. The band became somewhat of a figurehead for a new generation, the ones who were a bit too young to get it, when Manowar did it first. The past eight albums had varying degrees of success and if global chart positions are any indication, including hitting #1 in Sweden, this is the biggest Hammerfall album to date.

I’m not thrilled with the album title. It lacks character and is slightly misleading. For an album that is being pushed as a ‘comeback’ album, or a return to the original sound they should have picked a different name. Revolutions (or evolutions) are generally regarded as forward positive changes, a revolution being fast and evolution being slow. For an album that is going back to a style the title should have reflected that concept, something with ‘Back’ or ‘Revenge’, or ‘Return’ or something similar. One thing that is back is the bands mascot Hector and the cover art of Andreas Marshall, who did the first several Hammerfall albums. The band also rehired producer Frederick Nordstrom who produced their first two albums, GLORY TO THE BRAVE and LEGACY OF KINGS, so there is certainly a strong ‘return their roots’ feel on this album.

Musically, this is a top-flight Hammerfall album. Some suggest that there was a massive departure in style and sound on the last album INFECTED, but for an average Metal fan, those were very subtle differences. A well rounded Metal fan who listens to many styles may not hear the changes, or think they are all that dramatic, however for long-time die-hard Hammerfall fans, there is a certain shift in sound. It is almost as if the label is trying too to hard; up-selling something that is not really there, i.e., a big return to form. All the Hammerfall albums have been superb with only the slightest differences in quality.

The collection of songs goes from strength to strength. The opening cut ‘Hector’s Hymn’, laces lyrics and phrases from other albums into the storyline, the return of Hector. From there we get the classic mix of fist-pumping anthems, head-banging grinders, speedy solos and tons of glorious and majestic lyrics about freedom and rebellion. There are also a few darker lyrics as well with cuts such as ‘Ex Inferis’, ‘Evil Incarnate’ and ‘Demonized’ all of which speaks of demons and devil’s, so the whole album is not totally happy Power Metal. The band sounds invigorated and fresh after a long break between albums. Joachim voice sounds strong and the songs sound a little more inspired. I feel it is their best album in a while, but that is such a subtle distinction, because I really enjoy all their albums.

Other than that, there have not been that many changes, the line-up is the same, the band is still on the same label, same mascot, etc, (r)EVOLUTION is not so much of a comeback, but yet another virtually flawless album of classic Metal.
Track Listing

1. Hector's Hymn
2. (r)Evolution
3. Bushido
4. Live Life Loud
5. Ex Inferis
6. We Won't Back Down
7. Winter Is Coming
8. Origins
9. Tainted Metal
10. Evil Incarnate
11. Wildfire
12. Demonized


Joacim Cans Vocals
Oscar Dronjak Guitar, Keyboards
Pontus Norgren Guitar, Keyboards
Fredrik Larsson Bass
Anders Johansson Drums

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