Rock Stage, Sweden Rock Festival, June 4th
Hammerfall and their debut release, Glory To The Brave, has often been credited as the band and the album that brought classic metal back into the business in Europe and being the first band to break through the complete domination by the grunge scene. Without a doubt, they played a major part of making power metal popular in Europe once again and many bands would follow suit (Freedom Call, Mob Rules, Dream Evil just to name a few). Much can be said about these Swedish veterans from Gothenburg, but they always deliver a good show with lots of riffs and shredding from Oscar Dronjak and former Poodles/Talisman guitarist Pontus Norgren. They sure know how to put on a great show!
The first thing I notice is that I do not recognize the man behind the drums. It sure does not look like Anders Johansson (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen). Lead vocalist Joakim Cans later introduces the man behind the drumkit as the band’s latest recruit and his name is David Wallin Jungefeldt. They start off with a new song called “Hector´s Hymn” from the latest album (R)evolution. Hector is, of course, the band’s mascot and the big templar swinging the hammer on many of the album covers. There is by now a big crowd in front of the Rock stage but still it is possible to get fairly close to the stage. Without taking a pause, this song turns into the next – “Any Means Necessary”. According to Cans, this is the seventh time they play this festival. Hammerfall continue to belt out a “best of” setlist with songs like hit single “Renegade”, the hard rocking “Let The Hammer Fall” and the superfast “B.Y.H.” where they boldly ask all of us to bang our heads. Before they start “B.Y.H.” Joakim Cans tells a little nice story and takes us back to 1981 and a little boy who entered the record store to buy a vinyl record that was about to change his life. It was not an mp3, not a CD, but a vinyl record! He asks the crowd how many of them were even born in 1981? The album was Saxon – Strong Arm Of The Law and the boy was himself. He dedicates this song to that album and that classic band.
Hammerfall deliver the goods and a great show without any pyrotechnics and simply let the music stand alone and do the talking. It has been 15 years since I caught the band live last time. At that time they were a young band and the latest sensation when they played the Northern town of Piteå. They keep the set heavy and fast with songs like “Heeding The Call” and “Live Life Loud” but still littered with hooks and melody. Joakim Cans‘ voice sounds great but from where I stand it´s a bit low in the mix. The audience seems to really enjoy themselves and Cans is a great frontman and performer. They never talk too much and refrain from resorting to endless sing-a-long games which I will give them a lot of credit for. Hammerfall also manages to squeeze in a medley in the middle of the set. All the talking is in Swedish which makes it hard for the foreign visitors to understand what is actually being said. They leave the stage after having played for more than an hour. The big crowd chants for more and they return with a three song encore. One of their best songs and my favourite track of this show is “Templars Of Steel” which they play when they return and then continue with “Bushido”. By then we all know what song has not been played which is, of course, the closing track – European hit single “Heart´s On Fire”. Not their strongest cut in my opinion with a chorus that is being repeated too many times.
Hammerfall put on a solid performance giving the fans value for the money. With plenty of great songs to choose from it is hard to go wrong. Personally I would have liked to see more songs from my favourite album Crimson Thunder but that´s in the details. I really like what I hear and a great show to watch. Grading 7/10 geeks.
You can find all of Decibel Geek‘s coverage of the Sweden Rock Festival 2015 by both The Lionsheart & The Meister here: Sweden Rock 2015