28 Oct 2016

Hammerfall: "Built to Last"

As the regular writer on TONEwood is obviously way too busy listening to tapes, sewing on limited edition patches and doing other trve metal stuff, and not having the golden hair it takes, I was given the opportunity to write a review of the new Hammerfall album Built to Last and – if you’re already a fan of Hammerfall – you are in for an absolute treat!

Even though you definitely are in for a treat, the album actually starts off pretty weak. With what is in my opinion the weakest song on the album Bring It!. It’s not bad, but something about the chorus annoys me. I think that it is the otherwise great songwriting of the opener being abruptly canceled by an almost staccato-ish chorus. Let’s wait and see how the song fares live, as it will probably work better live. Give it a listen and judge for yourself. The album only gets better from here.

The following songs will be familiar to fans of Hammerfall as they have already been released as singles. Both Hammer High and The Sacred Vow are very great songs with good songwriting and are very anthem like, and they are sure to make various festival crowds sing along this summer. Especially Hammer High is a very powerful anthem written from the familiar Hammerfall template fans know and love. The Sacred Vow is very similar to Hector’s Hymn and is destined to become an instant Hammerfall classic. It even pays homage to older Hammerfall songs which I think is quite nice. It is simple, easy and accessible yet still great and gives a feeling of heavy metal unity. Now that we’re already holding our hammers high let’s soldier on to Dethrone and Defy which speeds up the album!

Dethrone and Defy is a riff-driven song powered with great solos by Oscar Dronjak. The riffs are powerful without getting too cheesy, which is not always an easy task. From speed and riffs the album gets slow and pretty. Twilight Princess starts out beautifully with acoustic guitars and the powerful voice of Joacim Cans. The song builds into an equally beautiful and almost sad ballad which could remind the listener of the classics Remember Yesterday and Always Will Be. Striking and moving!

And now, let’s fight some dragons. Stormbreaker is the quintessential song on every power metal album about slaughtering dragons. The song is really good and very catchy so I’ll let the cliché slip this one time. The song is again written after the Hammerfall template and contains good riffs and a sped-up chorus.

And now, as the 7th song on the album comes the title track Built to Last. The song is in a hurry as it soon becomes clear that Hammerfall wants you to shake your head while shouting: “Built to Last”! together with the rest of the band singing choir transforming the listener into a true Templar of Steel. So, hold your hammer up high and become a Templar with the band and sing along. You literally cannot do anything else.

Next song becomes a bit more generic. The Star of Home is an okay power metal song but it is really nothing special. The great melodies do pull up the song a great deal though and turns it from random filler into something worth listening to.

And now for an intermezzo with Accept. Jokes aside this song really does pay its homage to Accept while promoting and praising the heavy metal scene in general.  New Breed is a song about heavy metal and those who play it. The message of this song is beautiful. New bands, old bands and fans of any and every age can all agree that metal runs through our veins. This is what makes our community special and Hammerfall knows this.

Last song of the album, Second to None, is probably the most epic of all the songs. A great way to end the album. Being keyboard driven together with Cans’ voice it builds up from ballad but becomes darker throughout the song.  It’s a beautiful song where music and the songwriting at some points hits that sweet spot in power metal where even a walk with your dog turns into an epic quest.

Hammerfall’s Built to Last is a journey back to the old sound of the band. The band rises up from the ashes of a fallen Bushido and reclaims the known and loved Hammerfall sound. This is a very good Hammerfall album and indeed their best in many years. I presume and hope that this album will be picked up by both old and new fans, and I look forward to this summer’s festival season where Hammerfall hopefully tours the album. I’ll definitely grab my sword and shield and join the Templars’ heavy metal crusade.


Released in 2016 by Napalm Records

Words by Jacob Gramm


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