20 May 2011
by Tom Dare
In a dark time, the noblest order of heavy metal was laid low. And lo, from the darkness, in a land of the far North, didst a warrior emerge to do battle with the minions of the night and raise high the banner of hope and glory. And thus power metal kept alive by the broad back and lusty lungs of HammerFall. Yet that once-mighty hero of yore hath shown their skills to be dulled by Time’s inexorable passage.
As the years have rolled by, the army of metallic light has grown multitudinous, and the axe-arms of those beneath the sigil become adept and triumphant. And the victories of HammerFall have waned, the strength wielding their weapons seeming less, their accomplishments now outstripped by their own spiritual progeny. And in times present, their latest declaration of virtue Infected, while possessing of merits, is less than the legend of the name conjures to mind.
Opening with verve and vigour, the implacable march of ‘Patient Zero‘ communing with the exultant ‘Bang Your Head‘ suggests the return of the days of triumph. But quickly the hymn slides hence into “yet another HammerFall album” realms, the guitar work becoming bland, the heroic vocals uninspired and overly burdened with cheese. And thence do the errors become visible.
Most prominent of which are the lyrical paucities, which at times clunk and grind like a square wheel on a carriage. It is most challenging not to blanch at such stanzas as “Six six six/twist the holy crucifix/grab the oars, start across the river Styx” and variations thereupon, including the predictable rhyme involving “a ton of bricks”.
Most bands do video diaries of recording. HammerFall do this:
Later in the opus some of the vim not present too often returns as the listener is exhorted ‘Let’s Get It On‘ and offered ‘Redemption‘, but the moments when the true efficacy of HammerFall’s abilities shine are few, and the warrior appears steady and reliable if lacking the necessary luminescence to blaze with brilliance in a time when the standard of light is carried forth by both peerless veterans and the vivaciousness of youth.
In plain language, Infected ain’t bad, but mostly it ain’t that good either. It’s held up by a few decent tunes but otherwise is slightly awkward, bland or both. Simply put, we’ve come to expect better than this of power metal in the last decade or so, and once more HammerFall just haven’t kept up.
Sounds like: Helloween, Gamma Ray, Edguy
Top tracks: Bang Your Head, Redemption
HammerFall – Infected tracklisting:
Bang Your Head
One More Time
Send Me A Sign
Dia De Los Muertos
666 – The Enemy Within
Let’s Get It On