Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: February 25th, 2022
Genre: Heavy/Power Metal
Joacim Cans – Vocals
Oscar Dronjak – Guitars
Pontus Norgren – Guitars
Fredrik Larsson – Bass
David Wallin – Drums
2. Hammer of Dawn
3. No Son of Odin
4. Venerate Me
6. Too Old to Die Young
7. Not Today
8. Live Free or Die
9. State of the W.I.L.D.
10. No Mercy
Even as the world around them continues to be turbulent and uncertain as ever, Swedish heavy/power metal band Hammerfall can always be counted on to provide their fans some relief once every 2-3 years, with a killer new album. The band has been around for close to 30 years at this point, yet they continue to be one of the most productive and consistently entertaining bands in the genre, with even their least popular albums keeping me entertained, and when they’re at the top of the game they can be easily among the best in their field. Such is definitely the case with their twelfth and latest full length release, Hammer of Dawn.
As with their previous release, Dominion, I was a bit lukewarm after hearing the first couple of singles, which once again seemed to suggest a switch to more of a heavy metal focused sound. However, just like last time, the overall album is indeed the same mix of classic heavy metal and melodic, epic Euro power metal as always. Fans of the band should know exactly what to expect, as there certainly aren’t any surprises or big changes here.
The band has had the same lineup for quite a long time now, guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren leading the way with some heavy riffs and excellent melodic guitar work, as usual, while the rhythm section is carried by bassist Fredrik Larsson and drummer David Wallin. Musically, this album is exactly what fans would expect, with the same mix of hard hitting, speedier tracks, some more mid paced heavier tracks, a couple more melodic heavy metal tracks, and a really nice vocal driven ballad towards the end. Production is great as always, and performances are strong across the board. Of course, leading the way above everyone else is vocalist Joacim Cans, whose smooth yet powerful voice is still as strong as ever, especially shining during the many excellent choruses, though he sounds great throughout every track, as always.
My experience with Hammer of Dawn largely echoes the one I had with Dominion, in that when I first heard the two lead singles, I was a bit concerned, but then as soon as I heard a third track my expectations were raised, and then once I heard the entire album all the way through, I knew my worries were once again for naught, and that the album was as excellent as usual. The band first introduced fans to the album with the title track, a mid paced heavy metal track with a pretty strong lead riff, fun verses, and the rather prevalent use of chanting vocals, which make up the chorus. At first, I was a bit thrown off, disappointed that Cans didn’t have any real big vocal moments until the epic bridge section near the end of the track, but over time the song has grown on me, and while it isn’t a personal favorite, it’s a great track overall.
The other early release single is “Venerate Me”, a track which I already enjoyed somewhat on first listen, though it too has grown one me quite a bit over time. It’s another more mid paced heavy metal track, but it moves at a slightly faster pace, while having much stronger melodies overall. The verses are fun and have nice riffs, while the chorus is huge and melodic, with a triumphant feeling to the vocals and lyrics, and it’s easily the highlight of the track. Before the track was released the band mentioned a guest appearance by King Diamond, though fans may be disappointed to discover he doesn’t get any full vocal lines, instead being used for a brief chanting vocal section coming in between an epic solo section and the final run through the chorus. Overall, though, it’s an excellent track and probably the best of the slower tracks here.
One last single released (at least so far) is opening track “Brotherhood”, and this is the one I instantly loved, as it’s the exact kind of up tempo, epic, super catchy and melodic power metal I’ve come to expect from the band, complete with self-referential lyrics and nods to their fans throughout its glorious chorus. Like most of their recent album openers, it’s a fun, high energy track that gives a perfect idea of what to expect from the band when they’re firing on all cylinders, and it’s definitely one of my favorites here. Keeping the pace up, another favorite is “No Son of Odin”, which has frantic, guitar driven verses, serving as a backdrop to a slower, more melodic and epic chorus. It’s a great track the whole way through, with excellent guitar work and vocal sections. Another excellent faster track is “Too Old to Die Young”, which has one of the most instantly memorable choruses on the album, as well as some pretty fun lyrics. It moves at a rather relaxed pace during the verses, with some nice, subdued riffs and excellent vocals, but it goes full throttle for that chorus, which is easily its highlight, as well as a fantastic, super melodic guitar solo right near the end. In general, the solos on this album are very melodic, and have a very classic power metal feel to them, so they’re another one of my favorite aspects of the album.
On the slower side of things, “Reveries” is the closest this album has to anything experimental, though it still largely falls into familiar territory. It has a darker feel to it, especially during the verses, and moves along at a pretty slow pace, being more atmospheric than heavy or melodic. Its chorus is quite the thing, though, as instead of having any actual lyrics, Cans just says “na na na na na!”, the whole time. Weirdly, though, this works very well, as the vocal melodies are fantastic, and the chanting vocals in the background help give it an epic feel. I guess lyrics just aren’t needed sometimes! The last slow paced track on the album is “Not Today”, a soft, guitar driven ballad, with some very nice melodies, and an excellent chorus that serves as a nice showcase for Cans’ vocals. It’s not one of their all time best ballads, but it’s still a great track, and better than most of their other recent efforts in that department.
The album closes off with a sequence of three high energy, up tempo power metal tracks, all of which are fantastic. Leading the way is “Live Free or Die”, followed up by “State of the W.I.L.D.”, and then the album ends with “No Mercy”. I’ll group these three tracks together, because they’re all quite similar, all being fast paced tracks with an equal mix of intense, heavy guitar work, epic melodies, some excellent classic power metal solos, and of course excellent choruses. I think the middle track is probably my favorite of the three, but all of them are excellent, and the latter track does have an addictive chorus that serves as a great way to end the album.
At this point, we’re well beyond needing reviews for Hammerfall fans to know what to expect from their albums, so it doesn’t really what what myself or anyone else writes about them. The band is not likely to change anytime soon, nor should they, since they know what works for them and they do it very well. Hammer of Dawn is exactly what longtime fans would expect, and is every bit as excellent as the band’s previous two albums, keeping up their recent resurgence in strong form, with a fluid mix of up tempo power metal and more epic, slower paced heavy metal. I think I’d maybe give this one a slight edge over Dominion, but either way, it’s an excellent album, and would be a great starting place for newcomers looking for some great heavy/power metal, since it does a perfect job of showing off the different dimensions of the band’s sound and songwriting, just like Dominion, Built to Last and many of their other past albums.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.