Reviewed: December 1998
Released: 1998, Nuclear Blast
For nearly a decade, the music industry has been “treating” us to bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Korn, and numerous others of their ilk, forcing many metal bands to either conform to the alternative trend or break up altogether. And while death metal and black metal still managed to fare reasonably well on the underground scene, traditional and power metal seemed to take a nose-dive in popularity. A few already-established bands managed to survive despite the trends, but with no new bands entering the scene, due either to jumping on the alternative bandwagon or being ignored by record companies, things were looking desperate for fans of the genre. That is, until now… Hammerfall has arrived!!!
With all the praise they had received for Glory to the Brave (and a personal recommendation from EvilG), I decided that I just had to hear this band. Sticking to the old Hollywood saying of “you’re only as good as your last movie” (in this case, album), I figured I’d start with Legacy of Kings. Since the area where I live is practically on the outskirts of nowhere, I had to get it through mail order. Patiently, I waited 3 weeks for it to arrive. (Those crooks at Canada Customs even stuck me with an extra $10.65! Bastards.) Finally it came, along with Helloween’s Better Than Raw. I rushed home, dropped it in the CD player, held my breath… And was rewarded with the sweet, beautiful sound of pure, unadulterated METAL! Oh, how long I had waited to hear something like this!
The disc begins with “Heeding the Call”, an up-tempo rocker with incredible double-bass and a pre-guitar solo passage that’s VERY reminiscent of Pachelbel’s “Canon” (Anyone else familiar with the classics?). From there, it goes into the killer title track and then to “Let the Hammer Fall” which is a classic fist-pumper from start to finish. There’s also great guitar harmonies , such as those demonstrated on “Dreamland” and “Back to Back”. And, believe it or not, even the ballads “Remember Yesterday” and “The Fallen One” are quite enjoyable.
I was so impressed with Legacy of Kings that I ordered Glory to the Brave that same day (That one arrived duty free!). And while it was deserving of every good thing said about it, Legacy… is the better CD. Better production, better musicianship, and a much more mature approach to songwriting, it’s an excellent display of Hammerfall’s desire for progression and self-improvement. I think it’s safe to assume that the next album will consist of top-quality material as well.
Melodic and aggressive with a strong classical influence throughout, Legacy of Kings contains musical elements that most of today’s bands have either ignored or forgotten. Hopefully, this time we’ll be smart enough not to let the power metal genre be overshadowed by corporate trends. The Metal Gods have smiled upon us once again, my brethren… Stand up… Unite… And let the hammer fall!!!
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