You love 'em, you hate 'em, you think they're a pleasure guiltier than O.J. Simpson ripping the tag off a mattress. Seven years after their debut, "Glory to the Brave", galvanized a power metal scene then at low ebb, it's still hard to separate HAMMERFALL from the hype and discourse surrounding their existence. Five albums into a career that was never supposed to be more than a jokey side-project anyway, and three years after previous studio album "Crimson Thunder", what can we expect from the Templar Knights?More of the same, pretty much. Strip away all the mug-hoisting hail-and-kill hoopla, and you've got some decent, pedestrian power metal. I use the term in the 1980s sense — this is more SAXON than DRAGONFORCE (check out "Fury of the Wild" for a very Biff Byford vocal and a rockin', if disposable, midtempo riff). There does seem to be a slightly darker, more classy shift in the songwriting — nothing as relentlessly goofy as "Crimson Thunder" stinker "Hearts on Fire" (“burning, burning with desire") rears its head, although we do get the pomp-y AOR puzzler "Hammer of Justice", which sounds like it coulda been fished from ACCEPT's trash bin circa "Metal Heart". Obligatory ballad "Never, Ever" shows up at exactly the right moment — have a lighter ready — and 11-minute closer "Knights of the 21st Century" features a ludicrous guest vocal from VENOM troll-for-hire Cronos that will have the most stalwart defender of the faith on the floor laughing. "Chapter V" is a little more interesting than "Crimson Thunder", but it's not too far removed from anything else the band has done to change anyone's mind. If you've enjoyed HAMMERFALL all along, you'll probably be satisfied, and these choruses will have you lustily shouting along at your favorite sweat-and-beer-drenched Euro festival this summer. If you think they're a bunch of pandering no-talents reaping an unjust reward for doing what PRIEST, ACCEPT, SAXON and RIOT did better years ago… well, nothing on "Chapter V" is gonna convert you. HAMMERFALL fill the need for basic, lowest-common-denominator metal that pushes all the familiar buttons, and they show occasional flashes of songwriting prowess. But ultimately, it was only timing and luck that brought them into the first tier of metal to begin with, and at the end of the day, their agreeable, forgettable MANOWAR-lite shtick will be lumped in with C-listers like PEGAZUS, DREAM EVIL and SACRED STEEL (well, okay, they're not that bad). Buy WOLF's "Evil Star" instead – it's much more interesting. (And seriously, what is up with the intro to "Knights of the 21st Century"? It sounds like Cronos is fucking an orc or something. No one needs to hear that.)
To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appears next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).