Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009, Nuclear Blast)
- Any Means Necessary
- Life Is Now
- Punish And Enslave
- Between Two Worlds
- Hallowed Be Thy Name
- Something For The Ages
- No Sacrifice, No Victory
- Bring The Hammer Down
- One Of A Kind
- My Sharona
Joacim Cans – Lead Vocals
Oscar Dronjak – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Anders Johanssen – Drums
Pontus Norgren – Guitars
Fredrik Larsson – Bass & Backing Vocals
Producer: Charlie Bauerfeind
Total Time = 49:45
I have been on a Power Metal binge for the last decade because of Hammerfall. The band released two landmark albums in the late ’90s with their debut GLORY TO THE BRAVE (1997) and LEGACY OF KINGS (1998) and I have been plugged in permanent to the Power metal scene ever since. As good as these two albums are, Hammerfall doesn’t stray far from the same formula and I haven’t really gotten into subsequent releases, everything started to sound the same. With the release of NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY (the band’s 7th studio album) I’m starting to appreciate Hammerfall a little bit more even though they still do things the same way they did in the beginning.
The album starts off with the anthemic ‘Any Means Necessary’ that has a very Manowar-ish backing vocal, big choral vocals dominate Hammerfall songs. ‘Any Means Necessary’ is a mid-paced stomp that flirts with a faster pace at times, it’s full of guitars and crystal clear vocals. ‘Life Is Now’ is sounds like something from Royal Hunt around the MOVING TARGET (1997) album, very progressive and melodic but retaining the Power Metal. ‘Punish And Enslave’ has a thick main riff and follows the same pace as ‘Any Means Necessary’ but it has more straight ahead power. The guitar solo is pretty solid, as most are on a Hammerfall record, but the big background vocals detract from the overall song and give off that Manowar vibe again. ‘Legion’ opens with a quick demonic voice intro announcing the coming of the “legion” and then the band kicks into high gear with the fastest song so far. ‘Legion’ is straight from the band’s first two albums with breakneck melodic riffs, pounding double bass drumming and soaring vocals. What I like here most is that the backgrounds don’t overpower the main vocal, Joacim Cans has a huge voice and he can hold his own without the big choral backing.
Things slow right down with the Metal ballad ‘Between Two Worlds’. The song starts off with this church style organ that reminds me of Sunday mass from when I was a kid but moves to an acoustic based arrangement that puts the focus straight on Cans’ voice. I didn’t really expect a ballad from Hammerfall but this is one of the better songs on the album and shows a bit of diversity. I like the fact that the church organ returns for the chorus and the band plays within the song rather than go way over the top. Back to the mid-tempo Power Metal with ‘Hallowed be Thy Name’, which I thought was going to be a cover of the Iron Maiden classic, but it turns out to be a Hammerfall original. Unfortunately it’s not all that original…..it stays around the same pace as the first three songs, has a very simplistic chorus, and it just sounds like it’s been done before. If it wasn’t for the guitar solos being very good the song would be an afterthought. The pace speeds up again with the instrumental ’Something For The Ages’, a song that sounds like it came from the inspired first two Hammerfall records with duelling guitars and a solid backline. If this track had some decent lyrics it would be the best song on the album, it’s close even as an instrumental and shows what the band is capable of when they get out of their comfort zone. The title track opens with a simple guitar riff and builds into another melodic chugger that follows the medium pace they have been building on, as well as, those over the top background vocals. Solid guitars, solid vocals, solid backline…..more of the same without much surprise to it. That’s the problem with Hammerfall, you know what you’re going to get and the band just keeps following the same formula.
A quick drum intro opens ‘Bring The Hammer Down’ and the main riff has that Accept - ’Balls To The Wall’ tone to it. The pace and backgrounds are the same and I have been criticising that through the entire review but it works here. I think the inspired guitar work really makes the song a fist-pumping anthem and the vocals are extremely catchy. ‘One Of A Kind’ is a galloping Metal romp that reminds me of Helloween, Iron Maiden, and Gamma Ray. I like the way the song slows down immeadiately in the middle for a quiet guitar solo and vocal that builds slowly back into the meat of the song with a proper uptempo solo. It’s one of those changes you would expect from Maiden and it adds some depth/change to the album as a whole. The last song is a cover of The Knack’s popular hit ‘My Sharona’, and the band does a straight forward cover, but is it necessary? The song isn’t a Metal tune and sounds completely out of place on the album.
As I mentioned before, if you’ve listened to Hammerfall before then you know what to expect. The band makes no excuses for following the same tried and true formula that has carried them up to their 7th album. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Maybe tweak it a little. Overall the album is good but some songs sound the same as others especially with the pace and backgrounds. Then there are other songs like ‘Legion’, ‘Something For the Ages’ and ‘One Of A Kind’ that prove that the band can stretch out and enhance the overall formula. The production is flawless, as are the performances, but what else would you expect from a polished band like Hammerfall? I’ve given this a lot of spins since it’s release and I keep finding parts that I like, I would call this the best Hammerfall record since RENEGADE (2000).
‘Legion’, ‘Something For The Ages’, ‘Between Two Worlds’, ‘One Of A Kind’, ‘Bring The Hammer Down’