Article By: Kira Schlechter, Staff Writer ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor
Making Sweden rock since 1993, to swipe a phrase, HAMMERFALL is the standard bearer for all things Scandinavian. Relentlessly prolific, they’ve helped define all that is good about modern power metal.
In crafting the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Built To Last,’ singer Joacim Cans, guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren, bassist Fredrik Larsson, and drummer David Wallin wrote a lot of their latest, ‘Dominion,’ on the road, a first for the band, according to a Facebook bio. And indeed it has an immediacy to it that their customary carefully-crafted polish can’t disguise.
“Never Forgive, Never Forget” references the Vietnam War. Cans’ voice aches with regret – the sentiment of the title seems to mean that we will never forgive nor forget the mistake that was Vietnam, rather than acting as some flag-waving braggadocio. Its details are carefully drawn, mentioning “the trail” (the Ho Chi Minh Trail), and “Call for Agent O” (Agent Orange, of course). The same haunting melody that introduces the song also serves as the outro and bookends things very nicely.
“Testify” is firmly anti-religion and pro-self-determination, apparent from the opening salvo (“I’m electric, energetic / Quite high on life’s epiphanies / I don’t need no two-time weasel / To judge my way based on their bigotry“) and it doesn’t let up (“Be the prophet, the creator / And master your own universe“). The title is ground out with vigor and all is set to a pounding, insistent rhythm.
Two midway tracks are real fist-raisers and horns-flashers, definitely inspired by that writing while touring. “One Against the World” is a call to the Templar faithful, exalting the glory of the live show, the defiance of the metal horde against all non-believers, a common theme in their canon.
And “(We Make) Sweden Rock,” the story of their own birth and a stirring tribute to their homeland, is a reminder that band and fans are one. If you don’t spontaneously and helplessly sing along to the chorus, check if you have a pulse.
“Second to One” is an old-school piano-based track with some truly lovely sentiments (“You’re the sweetest sound / The note that explains the symphony”). It’s ok that it gets all big and power-ballad-y in the chorus with the equally big solo – that’s what it’s supposed to do – and it’s not overlong nor overly sappy, which helps.
“Scars of a Generation” is rather like “a how metal saved the world” allegory. There’s a great line, “And the green-eyed monster sang the blues / To choke our flame,” almost saying other genres are envious of metal. It soars with glorious guitars and an especially spectacular bridge.
01. Never Forgive, Never Forget
04. One Against The World
05. (We Make) Sweden Rock
06. Second to One
07. Scars of a Generation
08. Dead by Dawn
11. Chain of Command
12. And Yet I Smile
“Dead by Dawn“ is the supernatural story of a demon summoning during a seance, all in good catchy, punchy, driving fun. “Bloodline“ brings, right on cue, the Norse mythology, retelling the fall of Asgard, the home of the gods, during Ragnarok, that the gods must die in order to be reborn. It’s laden with imagery (“By blood we are unified / By fire we will rise again“) and ends with a hopeful resolution – “And now we are free at last / Counting the stars up above / One for each brother who’s fallen from grace / Giving our bloodline a face.”
“And Yet I Smile” is a stirring note to end things on, of positivity and finding your own way (“in the end, we only will regret the things we did not do,” they note), and adding that in adversity, we often find our true selves (“My star cannot shine / Without darkness around”). How great is that and how true as well.
HAMMERFALL tours the U.S. starting in October with fellow power Swedes Sabaton in a bill that can’t be less than a blast. They’ll head back to Europe in the new year to headline, bringing Battle Beast along.
Order ‘Dominion‘ from Napalm Records [link]
– HAMMERFALL Tour Dates –
– w/ Sabaton – 2019 –
Oct. 04 – Ft Lauderdale, FL, Revolution
Oct. 05 – St. Petersburg, FL, Jannus Landing
Oct. 06 – Atlanta, GA, Center Stage (sold out)
Oct. 07 – New Orleans, LA, Southport Hall ^^
Oct. 08 – Dallas, TX, House of Blues (sold out)
Oct. 09 – Lubbock TX, Jake’s ^^
Oct. 10 – Phoenix, AZ, Van Buren
Oct. 11 – Los Angeles, CA, The Wiltern
Oct. 12 – San Francisco, CA, The Regency (sold out)
Oct. 13 – Reno, NV, Virginia Street ^^
Oct. 14 – Portland, OR, Roseland Ballroom (sold out)
Oct. 15 – Seattle, WA, Showbox Sodo (sold out)
Oct. 16 – Vancouver, BC, Vogue Theater
Oct. 18 – Edmonton, AB, Union Hall
Oct. 19 – Calgary, AB, The Palace Theater
Oct. 21 – Salt Lake City, UT, The Complex Rockwell
Oct. 23 – Denver, CO, Ogden Theater (sold out)
Oct. 24 – Kansas City, MO, Riot Room ^^
Oct. 25 – Minneapolis, MN, Skyway Theater
Oct. 26 – Chicago. IL, The Vic Theatre (sold out)
Oct. 27 – Cleveland, OH, The Agora Ballroom (sold out)
Oct. 29 – Toronto, ON, The Danforth Music Hall (sold out)
Oct. 30 – Montreal, QC, M Telus (sold out)
Oct. 31 – Ottawa, ON, Maverick’s ^^
Nov. 01 – Worcester, MA, Palladium
Nov. 02 – New York, NY, Playstation Theater (sold out)
Nov. 03 – Silver Spring, MD, The Fillmore (sold out)
Nov. 04 – Charlotte, NC, The Underground ^^
Nov. 05 – Charleston, SC, Music Farm ^^
Nov. 30 – Monterrey, Mexico, Metal Fest
^^Headline Shows/No Sabaton
– Hammerfall Europe 2020 –
Jan. 30 – Bremen, Aladin
Jan. 31 – Hamburg, Sporthalle
Feb. 01 – Osnabrück, Hydepark
Feb. 02 – Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
Feb. 03 – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
Feb. 05 – Antwerpen, TRIX
Feb. 06 – Saarbrücken, Garage
Feb. 07 – Munich, Tonhalle
Feb. 08 – Kaufbeuren, All Kart Halle
Feb. 09 – Milan, Live Club
Feb. 11 – Langen, Stadthalle
Feb. 12 – Leipzig, Werk 2
Feb. 13 – Prague, Forum Karlin
Feb. 14 – Bamberg, Brose Arena
Feb. 15 – Ludwigsburg, MHP Arena
Feb. 16 – Pratteln, Z7
Feb. 18 – Warsaw, Progresja
Feb. 19 – Krakow, Studio
Feb. 20 – Budapest, Barba Negra
Feb. 21 – Graz, Orpheum
Feb. 22 – Wien, Gasometer
Feb. 23 – Berlin, Huxley’s