Hammerfall - Glory To The Brave

Hammerfall - Glory To The Brave

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(1997, Nuclear Blast)

The time between 1992 and 1997 was rather tough for the so-called ‘true’ Metal genre. From one hand you had the ever-growing Death/Black Metal styles dominating the readers’ polls while the impact of PANTERA’s new Metal(?) and the Grunge movement had subsequently poured their own character in the works of lots of Hard Rock and Metal outfits; even the legacy of 80s HELLOWEEN works had sadly built a more-than-happy smurf-oriented Power Metal typhoon in Europe. Swords, dragons and steel were not that welcome in the Music business anymore and bands of that ilk sweated working for private or low-budget label releases that remained heard only in an underground status. And if the Italian symphonic metallers RHAPSODY kinda offered something new yet spine-related to some traditional Metal standards, it was HAMMERFALL’s debut that shook the Metal world for good and re-ignited the Heavy Metal motor to fight for the years to come.

HAMMERFALL were formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1993 as a side-project from members playing in melodic Death Metal bands of the time (IN FLAMES, CEREMONIAL OATH, DISPATCHED, DARK TRANQUILLITY). Initially performing covers from classic Hard ‘n’ Heavy acts like JUDAS PRIEST and PRETTY MAIDS, the band participated in the “Rockslaget” contest with newly recruited vocalist Joacim Cans and made it to the semi-finals. Now having a clearer vision of what they wanted to play like, a solidified lineup made it to the recordings of the “Glory To Brave” debut album which was locally released by Vic Records for the Dutch market while Nuclear Blast smelled the success that was coming and signed the band a European deal.

Enough with history lessons here: “Glory To The Brave” is not the kind of Heavy/Power Metal older Metal fans shall 100% cherish. It sounds somehow cheesy and over polished while the themes have all their origins back in the glorious 80s Metal legacy of European and American Metal bands. But that’s the importance of this album specifically: apart from the Metal legends (IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST) keeping their careers in a descent commercial status in the 90s (no need to argue about the musical value) and a couple only of smaller bands enjoying mainstream success (e.g. GAMMA RAY), the ‘true’ Metal style was the topic of mock and laughter due to its now outdated musical and lyrical thematology. And with this LP a band like HAMMERFALL surprisingly succeeded in placing themselves as the first – for a long time – ambassadors of true Heavy Metal. I now look again at the inner sleeve of my vinyl copy and read the salutations from the band members to older bands like WARLORD, RIOT, STORMWITCH, DEMON etc and can clearly see how good for the traditional Metal genre the release of this alum was. Shortly after HAMMERFALL’s mainstream success hundreds of bands decided to harden their work for ‘true’ Heavy Metal in order to re-establish a scene that was long forgotten in favor of more intellectual, modern or gore/grim patterns. Yes, “Glory To The Brave” has all the clichés you’d expect from a band that was raised in traditional Metal notes; the attack-full riffs, the pounding rolling drums, the dual leads, the high-pitched vocals...

...but look at the bands HAMMERFALL have covered all these years: WARLORD (in this debut album), PRETTY MAIDS, CHASTAIN, POKOLGEP, STORMWITCH, PICTURE, HELLOWEEN, RAINBOW, ACCEPT, HEAVY LOAD, LOUDNESS, EUROPE. I remind you of the status of classic Metal in the mid-90s and again refer to HAMEMRFALL and “Glory To The Brave” as the means for traditional Metal to resurrect and extend its musical living. It’s no wonder thousands of fans bewitched by HAMMERFALL’s offerings became familiar for the first time and did a big research for enough bands from the list mentioned earlier in this paragraph. I like this album from HAMMERFALL, I do not love it as I find it too polished and sweet for my likes, but truth is the classic Metal style owes a lot to this band from Sweden. Older bands came again into attention, labels starting searching again for the simple Heavy Metal sound even festivals woke up and started inviting bands from the past to perform live in audiences of all ages. And that’s not a little thing to do with your debut album and only.


Tracklist

01. The Dragon Lies Bleeding
02. The Metal Age
03. HammerFall
04. I Believe
05. Child Of The Damned
06. Steel Meets Steel
07. Stone Cold
08. Unchained
09. Glory To The Brave


Lineup

Joacim Cans - Lead & Backing Vocals
Oscar Dronjak - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Glenn Ljungström - Guitars
Fredrik Larsson - Bass, Backing Vocals
Jesper Strömblad - Drums