Power metal veterans raise the rafters

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There are inflated hammers being raised to the ceiling and a persistent chant of the band’s name as Hammerfall crash onstage, guitars spitting as they cruise into Hector’s Hymn and Any Means Necessary.

It’s another manic power metal night from one of the genre’s best exponents. As frontman Joacim Cans repeatedly tells everyone, the band have now been going for 18 years, and they know how to move and involve their audience.

This is a full assault, with guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren providing a string-driven rally call through B.Y.H., Blood Bound and Let The Hammer Fall. There’s nothing complicated about the approach, it’s a procession of concussive anthems laced with humour and fire, accentuating the bond between the musicians and the crowd. The 400 Meter Medley allows the Swedes to meld several tracks from the past, before Threshold and Last Man Standing see out the main set, with riffs pumping like an overworked distillery at a Viking convention. But the encore is even more of cranking metal expedition, with the rousing Hammerfall leading into Bushido and the crowd-pleasing Hearts On Fire. As is usual at a Hammerfall gig, the audience are as vocal as Joacim, incanting the words to every goddamn song. No encouragement from the stage is necessary to get this interplay; it’s what makes gigs like this something special. A power metal passion play.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021