Hammer King – König und Kaiser Review

Power and Melody Fuse in Hammer King's Latest Release...

Released By: Napalm Records

Release Date: March 22nd, 2024

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Links: https://rockworld24.com/smartlinks/hammerking/

 

Line Up:

Titan Fox V – Vocals/Guitars
Gino Wilde – Guitars
Günt von Schratenau – Bass
Dolph Aidan Macallan – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Hailed By the Hammer
2. The Devil Will I Do
3. König und Kaiser
4. Future King
5. Kingdom of Hammers and Kings
6. Warhammer
7. Divided We Shall Fall
8. Kings of Arabia
9. I Want Chaos
10. Gates of Atlantia

 

Sometimes I’ll hear an album that’s reasonably entertaining while listening to it but doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression, and I quickly forget about the band, only to rediscover them several years later and find their newer albums much more impressive. That’s exactly what happened with the German heavy/power metal band Hammer King, whose debut, Kingdom of the Hammer King, was decent but never stuck with me, and I never felt compelled to listen to their music again until I heard the recent single “Hailed By the Hammer” and was instantly impressed. I quickly went through their entire discography and found out that the band had not only improved quite a bit over the years, they’d also changed their style somewhat, to one that matches my tastes a whole lot better. While their self-titled fourth album left me particularly impressed when I first heard it, the band’s freshly released sixth full-length album, König und Kaiser, has managed to top it, easily becoming the band’s best release to date!

The name Hammer King initially made me think of the Swedish band Hammerfall, and their more recent releases certainly do share some similarities with that band, but their debut was much closer to Manowar in both sound and tone (unsurprising, since vocalist Titan Fox V was once bandmates with Ross the Boss.) The band started out as a very classic heavy metal-sounding band, with bits of speed metal and a tiny bit of power metal. This lasted for three albums until the aforementioned self-titled album saw them switch to their current sound, which mixes together classic heavy metal and power metal influences quite fluidly, clearly influenced by the likes of Iron Maiden, Helloween, and of course, Hammerfall. Some of their old sound still remains, but as a whole, the band now has a speedier, high-energy style, mixed in with some excellent melodic guitar work. That guitar work, in particular, is what drives the band’s sound, sometimes sounding like 90’s/2000’s power metal, sometimes sounding a bit chunkier and more modern, while at other times they have that infectious classic Maiden sound which never gets old.

There’s quite a bit of variety to König und Kaiser, with some of the band’s catchiest material, some of their heaviest, as well as some of their most melodic and most epic. There’s a bit of something for all heavy/power metal fans. The band excels when they’re playing at a breakneck pace, with Dolph Aidan Macallan going all out with his drums, while Titan Fox and Gino Wilde play some nice classic heavy metal-style melodic guitar leads. Plenty of tracks mix fast and furious passages together with that melodic heavy metal guitar work, and those tend to be my favorites, though the slower tracks are also very good. Production is strong across the board, mixing a classic sound together with smooth, clean, and powerful production, and the mixing is also perfect. Performances are also excellent, with all musicians sounding fantastic, while Fox has a very raw and intense style, very much suited to classic heavy metal, and he does some epic wails at points, but he can also sing more smoothly when needed, and he excels on big choruses. He does a great job overall and is obviously a perfect fit for this style of music.

I’ve found previous Hammer King albums to be a bit inconsistent when it comes to songwriting, usually containing 1-3 amazing tracks, while the rest are solid but not outstanding. I found the self-titled album to be an improvement in that area, with only one track I found to be a tad weaker than the rest, while the previous album, Kingdemonium, was a bit more mixed, but still mostly great. Thankfully, though, this album is their most consistent to date, with 9/10 songs being fantastic, while the one remaining track is a slight step down from the rest but still quite good. Not only that, the album is also paced wonderfully, with a good mix of fast and slower tracks throughout, so fans of one approach over the other always have something to look forward to.

Kicking things off is the aforementioned “Hailed By the Hammer”, which is one of the best songs on the album, as well a perfect example of the band mixing their two styles together seamlessly. It kicks off with an explosive, modern-sounding guitar riff and it initially has a strong power metal feel, but then the verses fall into more mid-paced territory, while the chorus fully slows down and has a more classic heavy metal feel to it, with some nice melodic guitar work and huge vocal melodies. The mix of speedy passages and slower passages continues throughout the song (and much of the album), and it is one of the band’s best features, for sure. The momentum continues with “The Devil Will I Do”, one of the fastest, most classic power metal-sounding tracks on the album, with a bit of extra heavy metal flavor to it. The verses are fun, upbeat, and melodic, with both the music and vocals having a strong Hammerfall feel, while the chorus slows things down a bit, but is also one of the more intense and heavy choruses. The instrumental section towards the end speeds things up again and also has a strong classic power metal feel to it. Overall, it’s another one of my favorites.

Ironically, the weakest track here is the title track. It’s still a great track, full of chunky, modern heavy metal riffs and a strong melodic chorus, but overall it doesn’t quite hit the highs the rest of the album does. It’s a mid-paced track, musically reminding me a lot of some Warking tracks, which is likely intentional because their vocalist The Tribune is here, leading the opening verse and singing along with Fox during the chorus. He does a great job, as always, but I find Fox is strong enough on his own so that the guest spot feels a bit unnecessary, which is saying a lot considering Tribune is one of my all-time favorite vocalists. Next is “Future King”, another track which strikes a perfect balance between heavy and power metal, with blistering lead guitars and double bass drums leading the way through more power-infused verses and instrumental sections, while both musically and vocally the chorus has a strong 80’s Maiden feel to it, in the best way possible.

One of the slowest, most melodic heavy metal-influenced tracks on the album is “Kingdom of Hammers and Kings”, which once again has a strong Maiden feel to it, especially the lead guitar work and the epic chants used throughout the track. It’s a slow-paced, very melodic track with some excellent lead guitar work throughout. The verses do a good job of slowly building up momentum, while the chorus is epic, melodic, and super catchy, and it’s easily one of the best on the album, with a very classic feel to it. “Warhammer” opens up with an ominous siren and it’s another classic heavy metal-sounding track. I can’t quite think of the particular song right now, but the verses have sort of a stop/start rhythm to them, and the vocal melodies remind me a lot of a particular Maiden track. The track moves at a moderate pace throughout, speeding up in bursts but never going full speed nor slowing down too much, staying at more of a galloping pace throughout. The chorus is very strong, the solo section is one of the best on the album, and the guitar work is excellent throughout, as always.

Next is “Divided We Fall,” which has a slightly more modern sound overall, though it still retains bits of classic heavy metal throughout, as usual. The verses are slow and heavy, while the chorus is epic and melodic, but also a tad subdued. It’s a fairly restrained track overall, though there are some speedy passages, and the lead into the chorus is quite explosive. It’s another great track, and one that once again blends the band’s two main styles together quite nicely. Another slower, more epic track is “Kings of Arabia.” As the name implies, it has a strong Middle Eastern flavor, with a bit of folk elements added into the mix. It’s a fairly laidback track, relying heavily on mood and atmosphere, with the guitars having a subtle but sinister kick to them. It moves at a subdued pace throughout and is subtly heavy, especially during the verses, while the chorus is moody and rather understated, but still quite effective. It’s a change of pace from the heavier, more energetic material, and it’s quite an enjoyable one.

On the exact opposite side of the spectrum from the previous track, “I Want Chaos,” is one of the fastest, heaviest, and most Hammerfall-sounding tracks on the album, with heavy lead riffs, pounding drums, and a fast and furious tempo throughout. The verses slow things down just a tiny bit but are still fast-moving and quite heavy, while the chorus goes full throttle and strikes a perfect balance between being heavy and melodic, while the instrumental section is the one part of the track that has just a touch of that classic heavy metal sound in the guitars. It’s another personal favorite. Closing out the album is “Gates of Atlantia,” another slower, more melodic track, and it’s obviously one of the most heavy metal-focused tracks, with a very classic sound. It moves at a fairly slow pace throughout, with slightly heavy riffs, wonderful melodic lead guitar work, and a very epic and catchy chorus, which stands as one of the best on the album. It has some excellent instrumental sections and is the longest track on the album, closing things out with a nice, soft acoustic passage and some light vocals.

Hammer King have come a long way since their debut, from a band I lost interest in quickly, to a band that had me excited to hear their latest album, and now with König und Kaiser, they’ve taken another step towards becoming one of the leading bands when it comes to heavy/power metal. Fans of the band’s previous albums are sure to love this album, as it shows the band at their absolute best, while newcomers would be best advised to start with either this or their self-titled album. I certainly won’t be forgetting about this band or their music anymore after this album!

 

Ratings: 9/10

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.

About Author

 
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