Reviewed: March 1, 2022
Released: February 25, 2021, Napalm Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
HAMMERFALL are one of my all time favorite metal bands. I’ve been a fan since I first heard “The Metal Age” in the early days of the internet. Legacy of Kings still remains as my favorite from this band who I kind of wrote the band off due to their want to stray from their winning formula. I admit I was rather harsh to the majority of their releases from last decade because they just did not have the HAMMERFALL feel. Their past couple of releases saw the band flirting with a true return to form. Hammer of Dawn is their most recent effort and could quite possibly be called a true return to form. In fact, this is the first HAMMERFALL album since Threshold that I am not only enjoying but going back for repeated listens.
What seems to jump right at me from the first riffs that graced my ears is the speed. HAMMERFALL always had a great knack for writing great riffs around the double bass power metal speed. “Brotherhood” just has that classic HAMMERFALL feel to it and also has “album opener” written all over it. Now I’m intrigued because the two singles that were released as teasers; the title track and “Venerate Me,” (the latter having a very brief but effective guest appearance by the legendary King Diamond) had a very Renegade feel to them. Funny how while simultaneously making this album the band was preparing to release a remixed version of that 2000 classic. Then comes “No Son of Odin” which could have actually been on Renegade. A more mid paced anthem the chorus is one of their best and takes me back to that time. The solos are really well done, too. I still believe Stefan Elmgren was their best soloist but Mr. Norgren is quite competent and he’s cutting loose on this album.
As much as I love the speedy side of this band, they know how to make the typical traditional heavy metal anthem. Songs like “Reveries” and it’s catchy chorus or the anthem for us old metalheads, “Too Old to Die Young.” Once again the feeling I get is from that 2000 era of the band and that’s alright with me. That heavy metal chorus that makes you want to throw the horns high. Once again, this is the first HAMMERFALL album to truly return to form in a long time. I’m not a fan of the ballad, “Not Today.” Metal ballads that are actually good are long forgotten art. I guess I don’t find it necessary on every album. Thankfully “Live Free or Die” came follows and here’s another metal anthem that just crushes. The gang backing vocals during the chorus just take it to that epic level. Then you have the closer, “No Mercy.” That actually has some riffs that remind me of Legacy of Kings which was a huge surprise that I did not expect. The chorus is not as catchy or melodic as is he norm but more straight to the point. This one is a fast one with a really nice ripping solo and a great closer.
So the planets are all properly aligned and the universe is saying the time was right for the true return of HAMMERFALL. Their last couple albums showed them capable of writing strong songs again but it’s Hammer of Dawn that truly shows the band returning to the true metal glory that this band is capable of. I was not expecting this and that makes it all that much better.