August 12, 2019 HammerFall – Dominion (Album Review)
One of the enduring torchbearers of what is known as Power Metal, HammerFall are set to return with their new album, Dominion, on Friday, August 16th through Napalm Records.
Out of Gothenburg, Sweden, the relentless band has unleashed eleven studio albums since forming in 1993 – from 1997’s Glory to the Brave to the forthcoming Dominion. Consistently topping international charts with each of their albums, Dominion picks up where 2016’s Built to Last left off; featuring speed, technicality, iron-plated guitar clarity, powerful vocal harmonies, and catchy choruses.
Consisting currently of Oscar Dronjak (guitar, backing vocals), Joacim Cans (lead vocals), Fredrik Larsson (bass, backing vocals), Pontus Norgren (guitar, backing vocals), and David Wallin (drums), together they re-teamed with James Michael to do vocals at Red Level Three Studios, and Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman at Castle Black Studios for the instruments. Recording in the winter of 2019, their hope was to create twelve new songs that carry the flame and flare of the Power Metal sub-genre.
Opening with the Neoclassical metal-o-dramatic intro of “Never Forgive, Never Forget,” which then immediately explodes into splinters of neck-breaking steel power, only to end sweetly in the manner it started. The cacophonic aggression continues with the title-track, whose Heavy Metal grate and crunch reverberates an electrical energy as potent as a mix of Judas Priest (“Breaking the Law”) and AC/DC (“Thunderstruck”). Then, HammerFall up the ante even higher with the Thrash-phase Metallica-sounding “Testify.”
HammerFall continue Dominion with the machine-gun-rhythm sonic assault of “One Against the World” along with the leading single “(We Make) Sweden Rock” in the matrimony of metallic and melodic predisposition. The Power Metal purveyors then turns slow and sentimental with the piano-led ballad “Second to One.” Moving on with “Scars of a Generation” and “Dead by Dawn,” the band then subject their listeners twice again to the relentless and unforgiving onslaught of classic Heavy Metal thunder. It is frenetic, headbanging, and blood-curdling, yet orderly and organic with its blast beats, scathing twin-guitar attack, along with soaring vocal delivery reminiscent of Judas Priest’s Rob Halford or former Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.
After the short interlude “Battleworn,” HammerFall return the listener to Speed Metal territory with the galloping stomps and clenched-fist punches of “Bloodline.” Thereafter, “Chain of Command” simply continues the album’s overall Power Metal vibes, hammering its metal-on-metal musicality onto the listener’s anvil of surrender. This is before they drop their final and ultimate force in a rather dramatic surge of subtle emotions with “And Yet I Smile” – an apt album closer.
When it is all said and done, HammerFall remain one of the veteran wielders of Power Metal in the present generation, and Dominion is another piece to contend with by the new and younger flag-bearers of the genre. A powerful piece of Heavy Metal music, Cryptic Rock gives Dominion 4 out of 5 stars.