The Swedish Power Metal band Hammerfall had a great public and critical reaction to their seminal debut album, Glory To The Brave, and lit the Metal world on fire so to speak. The followed it up soon after with the equally strong and incredibly similar follow-up Legacy Of Kings. The first two albums sounding very much like a perfect pair.
With their third full-length studio album, 2000’s Gold-certified Renegade album, the band changed the formula slightly. It is still unmistakably Hammerfall, but with a different fell, focus and attitude than the two that preceded it – it’s a bit more stripped back and straightforward, with a sort of earthy quality to it.
Perhaps it is something to do with Michael Wagener (Dokken, Extreme, Skid Row, White Lion) handling the production here instead of Fredrik Nordström, although interestingly Nordström did co-write some of the material here). Then again; Perhaps it is Anders Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force) joining the band on the drums, or perhaps it is just the core line-up not wanting to repeat themselves. Regardless of why it sounds a bit different, it does.
Still, if you want a description of how the album sounds, it’ll sound like a description of any Hammerfall record: Its NWOBHM-focused Melodic European Power Metal with plenty of dual guitars, lots of ”woah-ah-oh’s” to sing along to, and a plethora of sword/combat themed lyrical content (the album’s motorcycle themed Title Track being a curious exception). If you like Maiden, Saxon and Priest you’ll be in good hands, let’s just put it that way. As always, Hammerfall invest a lot of time in big hooks, catchy choruses and impressive guitar solos… if you like Power Metal you probably can’t help but enjoy choruses like the one in ‘The Way Of The Warrior’ and that’s Hammerfall’s bread and butter.
There’s no intros, no covers and nothing I’d call filler. Its all consistent, all enjoyable and it flows well from beginning to end. Highlight’s include the superb ‘Living In Victory,’ the brief instrumental ‘Raise The Hammer’ or the beyond-catchy ‘Destined For Glory.’ The ballad, ‘Always Will Be’ is pretty darn strong too, cheese be damned.
If you’re into the band, no question, you’ll enjoy this release. This is a good Hammerfall album and I’d recommend checking it out, and although I wouldn’t personally rate it as their best ever its certainly close. If its going to be your first outing with the band I’d maybe choose another album first instead, perhaps Glory To The Brave or Legacy Of Kings but other than that, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Renegade.