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HAMMERFALL Live! Against The World

By Wendy Jasper, Black Metal Aficionado
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 @ 10:51 AM

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Live! Against The World

Napalm Records

By Wendy Jasper HAMMERFALL have toured the world in a blaze of Swedish glory for more than 20 years and there doesn’t seem to be any slowing down for the band that has single handedly merged Viking dominion with melodic power metal and popularized the Gothenburg sound. Their latest opus, Live! Against The World was released on October 23rd via Napalm Records and I will say I have mixed emotions about this album. As far as a live recording goes, they offer the very best in showmanship, smooth transitions from one song to the next and audience participation. There truly is something special about a HAMMERFALL show, be you in the audience or listening to a live recording. It is the set list that has me a tiny bit disappointed.

Recorded on February 15, 2020 at the MHP Arena in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Live! Against The World contains songs fresh off their latest album, 2019’s Dominion, songs that were well received by new and old fans alike. The band also chose a diverse range of songs from their back catalog and some were songs you wouldn’t normally hear live. This is a strategy that may work for new fans who don’t know the whole catalog, and while it’s not a bad idea, there are songs that have been what fans who were there from the first album to now consider staples and they just didn’t play them. “HammerFall”, “Glory to the Brave” and “Stone Cold” were missed.

Maybe I’m a bit of a purist, but the first three albums will always be my favorite; not because I don’t like anything new, but because when they came out, they stood tall above the sea of mediocre power metal bands of that time period. They always put out a solid album and I have enjoyed each one; I just have my favorites. Incidentally, HAMMERFALL made an impact on the genre that has lasted until today and probably for many more years beyond the cesspool that is 2020.

This past year has been horrible for musicians and fans alike. We have been sequestered from the things we love the most and cancelled tours and concerts have been painful for the music industry as a whole and have made fans feel isolated from an activity that can make or break someone’s day, week or even their year. Releasing a live album this year has eased the pain of many fans who didn’t get to see the shows they planned for months to see.

I have had the pleasure of seeing HAMMERFALL more than 15 times since their debut in 1997, and I am never disappointed. There are parts of this album that make me really happy; “Last Man Standing”, “Hector’s Hymn” and “Let The Hammer Fall” are infused with audience participation techniques by vocalist Joacim Cans and the rest of the band brings in the power you would expect from HAMMERFALL.

The current line-up consists of the following; Oscar Dronjak: Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Pontus Norgren: Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Fredrik Larsson: Bass Guitar, and David Wallin: Drums & Percussion. The duet between Cans and BATTLE BEAST vocalist Noora Louhimo called “Second to One” is fantastic and is also a highlight of the album. If you have not seen BATTLE BEAST it is highly recommended. “Heeding the Call” from the now 20-year-old Renegade album sounded better than ever and “The Dragon Lies Bleeding” is a must for this band as it is the opening track of their debut album, 1997’s Glory To The Brave.

The band has an impressive catalog of material and they chose songs that were non-traditional for their time-tested set list and they performed miraculously, as they always do. Their U.S. Tour was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I was supremely disappointed. This album is a gift from the band to fans who didn’t get to see them this year, and it’s a gift even if they didn’t play all of my personal favorites. They closed out the set with “Hearts On Fire” and that soothed a bit of the burn of not closing with something from the first album, and the lack of my personal favorites doesn’t keep them from 5 Stars.

Hammerfall, We Will Prevail…Hammerfall, Let Us Hail…

5.0 Out Of 5.0

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