Hammerfall – ‘Glory To The Brave’ 20th Anniversary Edition (Nuclear Blast Records) Print
Written by Tim Bolitho-Jones   
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 04:00

Hammerfall Glory artworkConsidering it was originally released in 1997, during the height of the nu-metal era, it’s a small miracle that ‘Glory To The Brave’ didn’t vanish without a trace. This was the year that bands like Limp Bizkit brought out bestsellers and where fashion was dictated by low slung baggy jeans and baseball caps, so Hammerfall should have been only a minor blip on the radar. They had long hair, their guitars weren’t down-tuned and they didn’t even have a DJ in their ranks! How the hell could they possibly survive in a musical landscape where Kid Rock was considered cutting edge?

 

Well thank God they did because their debut is an absolute classic. It’s a thoroughly un-pretentious and straight forward album where the focus is entirely on good songs, great musicianship and huge choruses. This is what a band sounds like when they’ve grown up with Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ playing on repeat. It’s also nerdier than interrupting a Dungeons & Dragons game in order to take part in a Transformers fan faction contest.

 

Hammerfall are definitely not cool, but they can write a mean hook. Opener ‘Where The Dragon Lies Bleeding’ is just the first of many earworms. From the chant-along ‘Stone Cold’ to the anthemic ‘The Metal Age,’ the track list is precision engineered for making you want to put on plate armour, pick up a sword and defend something. It’s overblown, pompous and unbelievably cheesy, but it’s also loads of fun. The high-speed riffing of ‘Steel Meets Steel’ would make the Pope grin and ‘Unchained’ could even encourage him to headbang.

 

In fact, the quality of song writing here is so strong that even the weakest moment isn’t that problematic. The ballad ‘I Believe’ is a very good song, but it appears too early in the track listing and disrupts the momentum too much. Had it turned up after ‘Child Of The Damned’ instead of before it there’d be no issue at all, but it comes right after three high energy openers and kills the momentum just when it should be reaching its peak. That little gripe aside, this album is pretty much perfect.

 

 

This being an anniversary release, there’s also a couple of pointless extras thrown in. There’s a radio edit of the title track for those rare occasions when you can’t be bothered to listen to a full song, plus a bonus disc of live recordings that you’ll listen to once then never play again. They don’t justify shelling out for this version if you already own a copy, but they’re also completely inoffensive and don’t damage it at all.

 

Truth be told though, ‘Glory To The Brave’ was such a good album to begin with that this reissue could come with nothing at all and still be an essential purchase for any power metal devotee who missed out on it first time. Stand on a cliff top, let your hair billow out behind you and play this at full volume.  

 

‘Glory To The Brave’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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