Calum Robson of RushOnRock.com recently conducted an interview with vocalist Joacim Cans of Swedish melodic metallers HAMMERFALL. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RushOnRock.com: Would you say [the new HAMMERFALL album] "Infected" takes a more traditional metal stance as opposed to the power metal that has described your sound?
Joacim Cans: Power metal is something that all the journalists around the world have been labeling us since day one. I've always said that we play heavy metal and within heavy metal there's room for the power as well. The progress while writing the album these songs came natural. We were aiming for something more alive, maybe with a little more roughness to it. We didn't really sit down and have a "cunning plan" on how to write the album! Everything happened naturally. When we were done with the first two songs ("Patient Zero" and "Redemption"), we set the standard already there. The main theme for the album was the zombie and we had to add a little more attitude because a zombie without attitude is a lame fucking zombie!
RushOnRock.com: So in terms of content, HAMMERFALL are going in a different direction?
Joacim Cans: I think this is really back to the roots when talking about the lyrics. It's back to the original idea I had when I started to write music, in terms of storytelling. Every song on this album is a well-thought-out story, and I really had battles with myself in writing the melodies as well as the lyrics, but at the end of the day I got a lot of recognition from James [Michael, producer] when it came to the lyrics. He said it's unbelievable that someone whose second speaking language is English came up with all these twists in the lyrics. That really made my day that he was a part of them. In the end, a song like "Let's Get It On" is a typical HAMMERFALL story about being an army of one and battling your own battles. It had all the ingredients there but they're with a twist now.
RushOnRock.com: In the past you've portrayed these personal battles with older imagery, but now you've moved to a different platform in zombies. Was it a natural progression for HAMMERFALL?
Joacim Cans: I think we've added another level to everything within the band. The zombie stories were also inspired by horror movies and zombie movies in general. This was like a natural step for us, that everyone could stand behind. There's still only two songs with the zombie theme ("Patient Zero" and "Dia De Los Muertos").
RushOnRock.com: Is the album name a reference to anything else other than a zombie infection as such?
Joacim Cans: Not really, we had a hard time coming up with a title for the album, but then the opening track "Patient Zero" has the word "infected" in every chorus. The impact that word makes said, "Come on, let's infect the world with HAMMERFALL," so we decided to put "infected" there.
RushOnRock.com: This is the first time you've had an album cover without your legendary mascot Hector. What was the reasoning behind "dropping" Hector?
Joacim Cans: It felt like we had had Hector in every position possible. He's been sitting down, standing up, he's been on a horse, he's been riding an eagle, he's been everywhere! We sent him to rehab for now! The black cover is a slip-case cover and we had a little fight with some people about that. If you remove the slip-case cover when the album comes out, you'll see the real cover. It's very bright and I really like it because it is so different. Hector is involved but not on the cover. There will be a lot of Hector on special editions. More than you've ever had before.
RushOnRock.com: You originally wanted to put the biological hazard symbol on the front cover, didn't you?
Joacim Cans: That was also on the slip-case, but for some reason the [hardcore/metal] band BIOHAZARD [from New York] have it copyrighted. They have the sign copyrighted, and I don't really understand how they can copyright something like that. [Note: The "biohazard" symbol was reportedly developed by the Dow chemical company in 1966 for their containment products. Ed.] Then there's a biohazard virus all over Europe, you can't put up the signs because BIOHAZARD own the rights for it. They own the rights for the music, so we said, "OK, it's fair enough, we'll take it away. It has to be BIOHAZARD's music."
Read the entire interview from RushOnRock.com.
HAMMERFALL's "Infected" album cover:
Original "Infected" cover:
Cover of BIOHAZARD's 1990 self-titled debut album: