Hammerfall are not the trendiest of Metal acts; they’re not shouty, they’re not angry, they don’t have an operatic female singer… what they are is highly polished, with great songs and powerful vocals. A good looking bunch of fellas from Gothenburg, Sweden set the Islington Academy’s hearts on fire tonight!
Hammerfall – O2 Academy Islington, London
Saturday 9th May 2015
Words: John Oakley
Pictures by Sean Cameron
The band themselves have been going 18 years and if you haven’t caught them yet, in previous years they’ve played the Koko, Camden Underworld and Bloodstock.
It’s shouty bands that are favoured these days, not singers or good well crafted fist pumping tunes.
Tonight, it’s the r(e)voloution tour, supporting the newish album, which is a real return to form. Only one UK show, an afterthought from their world tour!
Tonight, we’ve got a new drummer in former Pain man David Wallin, much younger than the old veteran Anders Johanson and he’s certainly pounding life into the band. Also now bedded in are Pontus and Larson who have been staples in the band since 2008 but it’s the powerhouse frontmen of Oscar Dronjak and Joacim Cans that are the real frontmen!
The revolution is here! ‘Hectors Hymn’ sounds as glorious and powerful an anthem as ‘Templars Of Steel’ or indeed ‘Heeding The Call’. ‘Bushido’, and ‘Live Life Loud’ slot into the set as seamlessly and keep the energy up to the level of ‘Let The Hammer Fall’ and ‘Bloodbound’.
In a rather Whitesnake inspired move, Cans get to give his vocal chords a rest during a instrumental medley where the iconic riffs of ‘Dragon Lies Bleeding’, ‘Riders Of The Storm’ and ‘Hero’s Return’ serenade the audience, but perhaps set some tongues wagging over Joacim’s fitness levels.
The man has more power in his voice than many of his contemporaries and delivers the high notes in every song. From the emotion of ‘Glory To The Brave’, every word sung by the choral voices in the audience, to the ludicrous partying of final encore ‘Hearts On Fire’, tonight was a treat.
With Hammmerfall we’ve got awesome songs, powerful melodies, chunking riffs and humour and personality. Swedish chef jokes aside, nothing is lost in translation today. They enjoy themselves enormously and it shows, and how.
I’ve got no complaints, I just want to see the band have confidence to see more of the UK and more shows than tonight’s toe in the water of the English rock market.
Are they still ‘relevant’? Hell, yes! Shows in Gothenburg and Hamburg at Christmas look like a good bet for a mulled wine fuelled winter shopping trip.
Evolution or Revolution… who cares… it had my fist in the air for every note! Awesome night… This Templar of the Heavy Metal crusade was a happy man!