Now some eight years into their career and the mighty HAMMERFALL continue to defy all logic and critics by storming into a fifth album which you’ll not be surprised to hear is a very near replication of the previous four albums. Yes the fist in the air Metal anthems are all there; yes the horrendous and awful prerequisite Power ballad is there and yes much trumpeting about Templar knights, fighting in the snow and battling for glory is all contained therein.
With ‘’Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken’’ few can match HAMMERFALL in their dedication to the art of glorious Heavy Metal music. It’s definitely a case of one step forward two steps back for the Swedes as it’s quite obvious from the opening track that you’ve heard all this before. However they do it so well that you can almost forgive them for it. Whether they would agree with me remains to be seen however.
Just how you can argue with such anthems as ‘’Born To Rule’’, ‘’The Templar Flame’’ and ‘’Hammer Of Justice’’ or the sheer over the top daftness of the twelve minute saga, featuring the mighty Cronos of VENOM, ‘’Knights Of The 21st Century’’ is not open to debate nor should it be. These are songs which Heavy Metal is based on: Rousing choruses, gigantic riffs and soaring vocals. But weighed up against bands like SHADOWS FALL and TRIVIUM HAMMERFALL, sadly, sound bent, bowed and broken.
As a die hard Power Metal/Euro Metal fan I can’t criticise HAMMERFALL for what they do as they seem to go from strength to strength on the back of each new album but they are now so enshrined in a formulaic round of Heavy Metal that it’s difficult to guess what the future might hold for them. For the moment they seem content to peddle out the same routine of sing along songs that whilst entertaining and enjoyable are nothing more than rehashed ideas. ‘’Chapter V…’’ is by no means a bad album it is by far the best record the band have put out but changes need to occur to keep HAMMERFALL a viable option. (Online May 15, 2005)