With their eighth album, Infected, HammerFall's career stands on the edge of a knife, and some fans may not be happy. This is the first album without their mascot Hector gracing the cover; that may be shocking enough for some. Also, they have abandoned their long time relationship with producer Charlie Bauerfeind, opting to take matters into their own hands. Founder Oscar Dronjak and guitarist Pontus Nogren are assisted by James Michael (Scorpions, Motley Crue, Sixx: A.M.) as co-producer. Every band makes changes in time so, practically speaking, the question is the effect on the music. Already the Internet is buzzing with rumors of HammerFall abandoning their power metal roots. I'm not so sure.
Infected starts with the heavier, less than power, metal of Patient Zero. It's steady pace and subtle groove mystify until the song erupts into brisk power metal conclusion. Suspicions be damned: Bang Your head follows and there's that groove once more in, yes, power metal. So goes most of Infected. It's not what you want to expect, but HammerFall has lost nothing; Infected is simply different from the most recent stuff.
Perhaps the fundamental under current is that aforementioned 'groove.' With the true heavy/power motif there's a significant rock n roll layer in many, if not, most songs. One More Time, Dia de Los Muertos (here's the power metal), and the arena ready Let's Get It On certainly have it. Possibly this the influence of Michael or HammerFall simply trying to be clever, but it sounds darn good. Yet, HammerFall has lost nothing of their intrigue. I Refuse, 666 The Enemy Withing, and the closer Redemption offer arrangements that move with interesting and entertaining twists of tempo and signature. The latter song, Redemption, offers all the epic qualities you would expect from past work: a symphonic layer from synths, intense guitar work, and a twisting arrangement.
I will tell you this: HammerFall's Infected can not be discovered, or dismissed for that matter, over a single or cursory listen. Yes, it's not Glory to the Brave or No Sacrifice, No Victory, but it is a new page for this formidible power metal band. I liked it, and think the patient and supportive will dig it too. Recommended.
HammerFall's Infected is not the expected same and can not be discovered, or dismissed for that matter, over a single or cursory listen. Yes, it's not Glory to the Brave or No Sacrifice, No Victory, but it is a new page for this formidible power metal band.