Saturday, April 20, 2013

HammerFall - Gates of Dalhalla

Note: This review is for the CD portion of this release only. 

Every time HammerFall (or any power metal band from the late 90’s/early 2000’s) puts out a new release, I get a bit worried. Historically, most of these bands started out amazing and slowly got worse. HammerFall is still one of the better bands in this style; but their decline is quite evident. Luckily, they gave us a live album, which is pretty difficult to mess up. It had been 4 albums since the band’s last live record, so there is plenty of new material (and a couple new members) to liven up the performance. HammerFall were trying for an even more special show, however, as they brought in a plethora of guests from their past, and played an extended set.

There is very little bad with “Gates of Dalhalla”, but it certainly isn’t perfect. One issue is that 9 of the 26 tracks were on their previous release. These are all great songs, and most of them are essential HammerFall tracks, but there are plenty of other fan favourites from both the old and new albums that deserve to be heard. The other negative to “Gates of Dalhalla” is the lack of impact of the guest stars. On the CD, you will only notice Mikael Stanne doing vocals on “Steel Meets Steel”. You will definitely hear Team Cans doing backup vocals, but their part is largely irrelevant. On the plus side, the performances are spot on. Joacim sounds as great as ever, and though he sometimes omits words or uses different vocal patterns than on the albums, it helps make “Gates of Dalhalla” unique. The rhythm guitars aren’t as tight as you might expect, but it reminds the listener that this is truly a live album. The other thing I love about this record (which is the make or break factor for most live albums) is the song selection of the other 17 songs. It’s great to see a band so enthusiastic for their new album, as HammerFall play 5 tracks from “Infected”. In addition, less obvious picks like “Fury of the Wild”, and especially “Something For The Ages” turn out to be highlights. Once again, the performance of “Something For The Ages” reaffirms Pontus Norgren as the only person who could take over for the great Stefan Elmgren on lead guitars.  His shredding is fantastic, and he adds some leads to some older HammerFall classics that you might not expect.

Gates of Dalhalla” is one of the better live releases from a band that still has something left in the tank. If you’ve heard their previous live album, “One Crimson Night”, you might get a familiar feeling with this record, but “Gates of Dalhalla” is still worth hearing for all fans of HammerFall. You might not hear too many surprises, but if you’ve never seen the band before, this release is an accurate representation of their live sound.

Be sure to check out and like HammerFall on Facebook!

"Fury of the Wild"
"Dia De Los Muertos"
"Steel Meets Steel"
"Something For The Ages"
"Glory To The Brave"

Final Rating
4.25/5 or 85%. 

Written by Scott