It's Hammertime! (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

The mist clears & you find yourself in a distant field surrounded by many casualties, long unkempt hair matted against battle weary faces. Flanders? Agincourt? Hastings? No my friends, this is Castle Donnington circa 1986, don't ask me how but Hammerfall have constructed their very own time machine that perfectly recreates the sights & sounds of a bygone era.

'The Swedish Templars of metal' begins the press release, how can you argue with that introduction?! Basically it does exactly what it says on the tin, this is old school metal & then some. This is Hammerfall's fifth full length outing & to have got that far they must be doing something right & so they are; this is a perfect recreation of 80's classic metal & there's always going to be a market for that especially when it's done this well.

The guitars are reminiscent of Scorpions/Maiden/Judas Priest, you know the old dual harmonies in the solos, clearly very talented guys & in places on this album it's quite stirring. Vocally it could be anyone from any band that was remotely successful in the metal scene twenty years ago.

Let's examine the evidence, with song titles such as 'Blood Bound' & 'Hammer of Justice' you probably get an idea of where Hammerfall are coming from. There is a predictable mix of songs on offer, standard metal riffs & big choruses mixed in with the obligatory ballad. Close your eyes & you can see the lighters wafted in the air for track 5 'Never, Ever', it's classic formula. Hammerfall succeed because they're not trying to be something they aren't, you know exactly what you're going to get & you're not disappointed. Is it relevant today? You'd be hard pushed to make a case for it but against the tide of death metal tunelessness you may find this a welcome aside.