Release DetailsLABEL Nuclear Blast
RELEASED ON 3/7/2005
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken
posted on 4/2005 By:
Oh, how I wish Hammerfall could be new to me again! When I first heard them it was as the opening act for Death on their 1999 tour, and for a kid who grew up with 80s metal, it was fucking glorious. High pitched vocals, black leather, choral vocals, fist-pumping lyrics – goddamn, I loved it. Legacy of Kings was an album so over-the-top, I couldn’t help but love it. Renegade followed suit, but by the time Crimson Thunder dropped, my interest had started to fade. Even today, my excitement over this new disc can only lead me to disappointment, as there is no way it will ever match the high regard I initially had for the band. So, I am damned to be letdown forevermore by Hammerfall. That being said, Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken is still a solid album and a step in the right direction after its lackluster predecessor.
Most of you should know the Hammerfall formula by now: they play that love-it-or-hate-it genre of power metal with cheesy lyrics, chanting, and songs about themselves. All the standard song types are here: a metal anthem “Blood Bound”, a song with the word “hammer” in it “Hammer of Justice”, a warrior tune “The Templar Flame”, and the requisite power ballad “Never, Ever”. Then we have a couple of unusual moments: the acoustic instrumental “Imperial” and the 12-minute epic “Knights of the 21st Century”, which features guest vocals by none other than Cronos of Venom. His contributions to the intro and outro segments are quite silly (as Venom have oft been accused of being), but works much better during the course of the track as a wicked otherworldly voice. The early parts of this song sound a lot like the chorus from Stratovarius’s “Awaken the Giant”, while the later stuff sounds more like traditional Hammerfall.
Songwriting and structure are so important to the power metal game. While the first single “Blood Bound” is instantly memorable for its chorus, “Fury of the Wild” gets my vote as the strongest track here, galloping along at a nice pace and a nice little chorus that builds to climax from one line to the next, and includes a brief pause to let the band chant the album title in unison. And of course, anyone who listens will be walking around singing the lyrics to “Born to Rule” under their breath – heck, maybe some daring sports team will take to playing this one to rally themselves to a championship season.
Ultimately, what we have here is Hammerfall doing their Hammerfall-ian thing, with a few surprises in store and overall a more solid album than Crimson Thunder, but not quite on par with any of the first three albums. Fans can rejoice that their favorite metal warriors are back to form, while the haters can keep on hating them just for existing while waiting for the next Manowar album.
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