Hammerfall - Built To Last album review

Prime pomp from Sweden’s power metal kings

A press shot of Hammerfall taken in 2016

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Hammerfall know what they’re doing – and how to do it better than most. This is their 10th studio album, and the ability to go right across the power metal spectrum is very much in evidence. Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren combine for some passionately accomplished dual guitar moments, across which Joacim Cans sounds sturdy on vocals, clearly benefiting from working with Sixx:AM singer James Michael in LA. As soon as Bring It! thunders over the horizon you know this is going to be an album that presses all the right buttons. Hammer High has an irrepressible rhythm that brings to mind early Accept, while Twilight Princess is a tight power ballad that never becomes soppy. There’s a real thrust and zest throughout; for all the brickbats thorwn their way over the years this is a band who accentuate their side of their metal domain without ever being drawn into unnecessary experimentation. The pace does slow down on tracks like The Sacred Vow and Second To None, but producer Fredrik Nordström ensures there’s no drop in energy. Built To Last shows it is possible to sound fresh without changing the basics. And that’s what Hammerfall fans want.

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 (opens in new tab), 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.