Legacy Of Kings

Hammerfall

Nuclear Blast Records, 1998

http://www.hammerfall.net

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/28/1999

As much as I am looking forward to the return of heavy metal's popularity, I'm starting to see the drawback to this happening - and it's the same thing that caused the whole genre to collapse in upon itself a decade ago.

The problem? Lame bands, lame material. I could name dozens of bands whose output in the '80s fell under this heading (but I'll hold off - I need fodder for future reviews), and I really hate to say this, but I'm starting to see it again.

Case in point: Legacy Of Kings by Hammerfall. Were this disc to have come from an American band, I'd call for the harshest torture known to man - that is, tie the members down and make them listen to Vanilla Ice non-stop for a week. But Hammerfall is actually from Sweden - and, in a sense, this kind of metal is more forgivable, since the whole scene never quite experienced the death as it did on this side of the pond.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And while the album isn't wretched, it hardly qualifies as great material. This album evokes the images of what would happen if Manowar and Dokken were to merge - all pose, some flash, little substance.

I know I'm begging for hate mail from the Manowar fans (who are almost cult-like in their devotion to that band), but the comparisons have to be drawn when you listen to some of the lyrics, which border on the ridiculous. Sample chorus from "Heeding The Call": "Heeding The Call, one and for all / Never surrender, with glory we'll fall / Brothers unite, let's stand up and fight / Fullfilling our fate, we are Heeding The Call". I don't know if this is a heavy metal song or an Army recruitment ad, for God's sake - warning sign number one. (The reason these guys remind me of Manowar is they both share the same style of manhood-swinging, metal-as-religion songwriting - and it still sounds lame today.)

Warning sign number two - the band works their name into a song or song title. Proof: "Let The Hammer Fall," another song that struts the strut, but doesn't have solid enough footwear. ("Let The Hammer Fall"? Lay 'em on the anvil, guys, and I'll start hammering.)

The saving grace for Legacy Of Kings is that the music isn't grating, and it does become a mild guilty pleasure for fans of the genre - after a couple of listens, the fun is gone. But, since the album passes rather quickly, the damage is minimal.

The guitar work of Oscar Dronjak and Stefan Elmgren is pretty solid, and Patrik Räfling's drum skills are impressive. But Magnus Rosén's bass is all but lost in the mix, and the concept of harmony vocals is a hopeless cause for this band. Joacim Cans is a competent vocalist, but not someone who would stand out amongst the best in the world of heavy metal.

Legacy Of Kings is the kind of album that will appeal to those who still live in the late '80s and who have refused to let the bad side of heavy metal die. For the rest of us, it's a passable album, but hardly one worth going out of your way for.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.