Nobody had expected this to happen – least of all guitarist Oscar Dronjak, metalhead to the core, admirer of metal protagonists such as Judas Priest, Accept & others. The inconspicuous act he had founded in 1993 by the name HammerFall exploded onto the scene with the 1997 debut album, which heralded the start of an international renaissance of traditional Heavy Metal. By now, the band is considered rescuers of this written-off genre, with its innovative compositions and non-compromising attitude. That's still what makes HammerFall a figurehead of true Heavy Metal today! Back in the mid-nineties, right in the middle of the boom years of grunge, no one gave a damn about long hair, rivet-covered leather clothing and rapid guitar solos or furious double bass attacks. Therefore, metallers like Oscar Dronjak and Jesper Strömblad - who was in the early incarnation of the band - had no choice but to play their favorite kind of music themselves. Just for fun – without any ”financial interests” or rock star aspirations. After acquiring present-day members Joacim Cans on vocals and Fredrik Larsson on bass, the band got interest from small, Dutch label Vic Records.
The subsequent studio effort GLORY TO THE BRAVE (info | shop) was done with minimal budget; both recording and mix took place in 16 days. The result was amazing! In passing, Strömblad forwarded a copy to Nuclear Blast, the record label to which his In Flames was signed. The label was delighted and willing to released the recording in its original version. In June of 1997, the record came as a real bombshell, galvanizing the Metal scene from the throes of alternative music. The release of LEGACY OF KINGS (info | shop) the following year proved that the success of the Swedes' initial effort had not been a passing fad. With their third record RENEGADE (info | shop) - which was produced by Michael Wagener (who had worked with Accept and Alice Cooper, as well as Skid Row and Metallica) - drummer Anders Johansson had joined the force, and HammerFall reached a whole new audience: young kids who were dying for the style of no-frills heavy metal offered by the Swedish templars. In 2002, the cycle with Charlie Bauerfeind (one of the most renowned metal producers on this planet today, responsible for albums by Saxon, Helloween and Blind Guardian) in the producer's chair began with CRIMSON THUNDER (info | shop). Three years later, CHAPTER V: UNBENT, UNBOWED, UNBROKEN (info | shop) was unleashed, an impressive pro-Heavy Metal statement.
On the subsequent releases THRESHOLD (info | shop) and NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY (info | shop), some interesting experimental nuances can be found, further developing the sound towards Heavy Metal perfectio! n. INFECTED, the eighth studio album of the templars, marks the beginning of a new era for the quintet: for the first time since the turn of the millennium, and after almost ten years of cooperation, Charlie Bauerfeind did not produce the recording. ”We took this step heavy-hearted, but it was inevitable in our opinion”, the guitarist explains. ”Because after such a long time of collaboration, routine was about to get into the production flow. And there is nothing more lethal for an artist than things becoming routine!” As a result of this, Dronjak filled the producer's role together with guitarist Pontus Nogren, assisted by James Michael (Scorpions, Mötley Crüe, Sixx: A.M.) as co-producer. The drums were recorded in Bohus Studios in Kungälv together with Tobias Lindell (Europe, Mustasch, Hardcore Superstar). Joacim Cans entrusted himself to James Michael as well, who worked diligently to inspire and excite the vocalist to perform on a different level than before. The result was outstanding, and the resulting mix by Michael cemented what they all had felt during the production: this was something special! After the slow and meticulous opener "Patient Zero", the double-bass infested, HammerFall-like headbanger "Bang Your Head" and the slightly swinging "One More Time" with its subtle dramatic flair one thing is for sure: The five Swedes were able to combine their 80's roots and True Metal aspects of the first two albums perfectly with a fresh touch, which takes account both modern influences and listening habits of the 21st century.
"This is HammerFall in 2011, the legend has been reborn!", exclaims Dronjak. Further into the record, another lightly swinging uptempo anthem "The Outlaw" commends itself as a successor to 2001's RENEGADE, the beautiful Pokolgép-remake "Send Me A Sign", the melodic yet straightforward and harsh "Dia De Los Muertos" resting on teutonic laurels, and "I Refuse" - the album's heavyweight - marching from first beat to the last, enriched with massive grooves made in the USA. It doesn't matter whether you take "666 – The Enemy Within" with its dynamic rhythm alterations, the monolytic stamper "Immortalized", the irresistible MMA-influenced party anthem "Let's Get It On" or the melancholic opus "Redemption" marking an epic ending: INFECTED (info | shop) quickly turns out to be a fresh sounding, contagious heavy metal virus in every department, which surely will contaminate metalheads all around the world. No need for an immunization - there's no cure for it anyway! Get INFECTED!
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