Hammerfall No Sacrifice, No Victory
by Derric Miller
Get out your broadswords, put on your codpieces and prepare to ride the white pony … cuz Hammerfall is back! Their new release, the title perchance MMA-influenced, is called No Sacrifice, No Victory. For a band that unjustly falls into that “love ‘em or hate ‘em” category, they surely stick to their guns again. Their uncompromising new release will make their fans roar gloriously and keep the haters frothing.
“Any Means Necessary” opens No Sacrifice, No Victory, and the word “anthem” doesn’t really do it justice. With a raging and pummeling rhythm section, menacing vocals from the underrated Joacim Cans and fevered guitar solos and leads throughout, it gets the blood boiling. The ridiculous lyrics add to the fun, with phrases like, “I am not judgemental, a sinner or a saint. Just either you’re my best friend or you ain’t,” support the fact Hammerfall doesn’t take themselves too seriously. It’s Heavy Metal, dammit! The soaring pre-chorus leads into a repetitive shout-along chorus, with bellowing group vocals.
The next few songs are almost as strong as “Any Means Necessary,” but they all pale to “Legion.” That track is like reading a dark fantasy novel, with atmospheric and eerie synth sounds, some Satanic guttural ranting … and that’s before the actual music starts. Drummer Anders Johansson is an absolute machine during the opening, and the rest of the song he keeps a pace that would make Death Metal drummers drool in awe. The quirky leads after the first chorus stand out as well, sort of along the lines Dragonforce emit, but not quite as frenzied. “My name is Legion, and we bring destruction and death,” goes the chorus, and so shall you.
A keyboard-heavy ballad is up next on “Between Two Worlds,” with cathedral organ keys leading into acoustic guitar passages. Cans can mesmerize when it suits his purposes, and his soaring vocals at least partially hypnotize the listener. Part of the draw of the song is the lyrics, because he is singing of someone literally caught between two worlds. “Just like the rainbow, between mist and sun … feeling like I’m trapped between two worlds.” Picture that, Hammerfall waxing poetic …
The quality stays high on the next song, “Hallowed Be My Name.” You can picture this song being played before thousands of fans, masses of humanity grooving and headbanging to this freakishly catchy anthem.
“Bring the Hammer Down” is probably one of the songs that critics of Hammerfall will point to. While the group unmusical vocals work on some of the earlier tracks, they sound slightly droning here. Yes, the guitar solo saves it for the most part, but this isn’t an instrumental.
Bands are picking some retarded songs to cover of late. Elvenking honestly chose Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” on their new release, and Hammerfall at least went the purposefully goofy direction with The Knack’s “My Sharona.” If anything, it’s a thumb to every critic out there, thinking they are formulaic and one-dimensional. If you can’t make fun of yourself, you will always lose. The scary thing is, Hammerfall doesn’t just do it justice, but they nail it.
Hammerfall consistently releases some of the best Heavy Metal on the planet, and No Sacrifice, No Victory is proof. No, it isn’t for everyone, but Everyone sucks, so why placate them?
Label: Nuclear Blast
1. Any Means Necessary
2. Life Is Now
3. Punish And Enslave
5. Between Two Worlds
6. Hallowed Be My Name
7. Something For The Ages
8. No Sacrifice, No Victory
9. Bring The Hammer Down
10. One Of A Kind
11. My Sharona
HRH rating: 7.8/10