Hammerfall - No Sacrifice, No Victory
Nuclear Blast
Power/Heavy Metal
11 songs (49:49)
Release year: 2009
Hammerfall, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Writing a review of Hammerfall’s latest album is rather like bashing my head against a brick wall and then painting with the resulting bloody mess. It’s a painful experience to say the least, not just because finding words to describe a band who have been releasing very similar albums throughout their career is tough, but also because they’re the kind of band that have a really manic fanbase, the kind that will probably be writing in to complain that I started a Hammerfall review with gratuitous violence instead of recalling Cans’ horrific glassing and how this means that Hammerfall are gods incarnate.

Of course, by this stage in the Hammerfallian career, reviewing their albums is rather pointless, since the fact that you’re reading this means that you’ve got your own opinion on their sound, and let’s face it, you’ll probably not need to read this review to know whether you’ll be listening to No Sacrifice, No Victory or not. Still, I like a challenge, here goes: the most obvious differences between this, Hammerfall album number seven, and the previous album, the rather dull Threshold, are that Glory To The Brave-era bassist Fredrik Larsson has returned, and guitarist Stephan Elmgren is no longer present, quitting in 2008 to concentrate on his alternate career as a pilot. His replacement is one Pontus Norgren, formerly of The Poodles, a band whose promotional shots filled me with such Black Metal rage that I had to go and lie in a dark room for an hour after viewing them.

Several listens to No Sacrifice, No Victory later it’s clear that his input isn’t nearly as lame as his former band’s taste in promo shots. In fact, Hammerfall sound a lot better here than on Threshold, although from the usual pre-album hype I was expecting a sound so raw that it makes Wold demos seem overproduced. Of course, this is Hammerfall as usual, and if the mix has a bit more power than Threshold, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t anything other than catchy Power Metal goodness. Of course, there are a couple of filler tracks present, but for the most part No Sacrifice, No Victory is excellent, the best album the band have produced since Crimson Thunder at least, if not Legacy Of Kings. Opener and first single Any Means Necessary is a typical mid-tempo pounder, catchy as hell, with an epic chorus and the usual male choirs. The following track Life Is Now simply rocks, excellent solos and riffs throughout, with the best chorus the band have written since Hearts On Fire.

There aren’t many departures from typical Hammerfall territory; Punish And Enslave has a sort of Thrashy turn to it at first, until the vocals come in and it turns into the usual 80s Heavy Metal style, complete with singalong chorus. Legion starts with electronic fuzz and someone growling rather ridiculously – I assume it’s not Joachim Cans – before yet another catchy Heavy Metal tune starts. Between Two Worlds is the required acoustic ballad, and a damn good one it is, complete with a Church organ solo. The most enjoyable moments on the album, however, are the really good songs, the ones that should make amateur Power Metal bands realise that they’re never going to be any good and they should play Melodeath instead, because most people don’t care about rubbish songwriting there.

Let’s make it really obvious: the best songs on this album are amongst the best in Hammerfall’s catalogue, and could hold their own against a fair few Helloween classics too. The examples are many: Hallowed Be My Name is elevated to genius with a few sampled gunshots, Something For The Ages a riff-heavy blast of an instrumental that reminded me tearfully of when Edguy were any good, and of course would have been made even better with vocals. What is the point of instrumentals on a Hammerfall album? Still, I’ll forgive Something For The Ages since it rocks, and since it ends with a man shouting ‘piss!’ which counts for Wildean levels of wit in Hammerfall’s universe, bless.

Not much more needs saying, really. Do I need to explain to you people that most Hammerfall albums have a song with ‘hammer’ in the title, and Bring The Hammer Down might be the best one? Well, alright, Hammerfall is better, but it beats the rest easily, and could easily be double the three-and-a-bit minute length without getting old. Even cover song My Sharona originally by The Knack is great, mostly because it’s a great original, oddly a song that only I seem to have heard of, but it proves Hammerfall’s taste in one-hit-wonders is as good as mine, and the fact that Pearl Jam and Destruction have also covered it proves the song’s awesomeness. Heck, even the fact that The Chipmunks have covered it, quite possibly the worst musical group ever to exist ever in the history of everything (yes, even worse than Hitler and His Singing Gestapo) can’t stop me enjoying it.

So, in summary No Sacrifice, No Victory is absolutely recommended if you’re one of those awesome Power Metal fans that aren’t too snobby to listen to cheesy-themed stuff like this but still prefer good songwriting to pointless Neoclassical riffing. Of course, for most people this is Hammerfall and so they’ll be buying it anyways, and whilst the band will never make anything quite as good as their first two albums again, this comes close enough to be reminiscent of them if you don’t just want to listen to them again. It certainly won’t be a disappointment to anyone with patience, and tolerance for Hammerfall sounding the same now as they did twelve years ago; were this any other band some points would be deducted for that. Here’s where Hammerfall succeeds: they’re fun, and don’t pretend to be anything but, no proggy mindbending bits, no drum n’bass bits, no Eastern percussion. Even the growly vocals mentioned earlier seem designed for Power Metal airheads to giggle at rather than the genuine exploration of musical boundaries. Good, clean, fun, enjoyable Heavy Metal, as usual.

Killing Songs :
Any Means Necessary, Life Is Now, Punish And Enslave, Hallowed Be My Name, Bring The Hammer Down, One Of A Kind, My Sharona
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Hammerfall that we have reviewed:
Hammerfall - Hammer of Dawn reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Hammerfall - Dominion reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Hammerfall - (R)Evolution reviewed by Joel and quoted 89 / 100
Hammerfall - Infected reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Hammerfall - Threshold reviewed by Jeff and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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