The story of Hammer Fall beginns in 1993 when Oscar Dronjak left Ceremonial Oath and progressed/decreased (depends on your affiliations) from death metal to power metal.
Jesper Strömblad, In Flames drummer, along with Dronjak, was the core of the band. Soon Niklas Sundin (guitars), Johan Larsson (bass) and Mikael Stanne (vocals) joined the band. Of course, when you are young, you just formed the band, it is kind of rule to change few line-ups. Niklas Sundin and Johan Larsson left HF, another In Flames member was included, Glenn Ljungström (guitars). Fredrik Larsson took the bass player position. Since all the members had already been active in few other bands, HF supposed to be only a project. At the beginning they played few own songs and bunch of Pretty Maids, Alice Cooper and Judas Priest covers in small local clubs. Local music contest Rockslaget was the crucial moment for HF. Since Mikael Stanne could not perform at semi-finals, Joacaim Cans replaced him, but they agreed only for that night. HF was disqualified, but Cans remained HF vocalist for two decades.
As HF fanatic I was warned not to write three volumes book, so I will have to pass some facts and jump to debut Glory to the Brave.
Glory to the Brave was released in 1997 for Nuclear Blast. Line-up, of course changed in the meantime, and over the years at least 15 musicians were involved in HF.
Glory to the Brave was breakthrough of Swedish, most people would say power, but I always prefered categorise HF as pure heavy metal band. There is no sense writing a review of someone´s album released 20 years ago, cause there is nothing musch you can add. This is glorious, epic, anthemic piece of art. It showed to the world that those guys are very talented, capable to write and perform both: speed and slow songs.
It seems things were happening too fast for the band, so even guys did not believe in sudden sucess:
”We’ve met journalists saying: ”You know what? This is a fantastic album. This will open the door for the new wave of the new wave of heavy metal.” And we were like: you are talking to us?”(Joacim Cans)
And where is the key of two decades sucess?
”We wanted do this the only way, our way, the heavy metal way.” (Joacim Cans)
”We just did what we belived in.” (Frederik Larsson)
Glory to the Brave 20 Year Anniversary is double CD. CD1 includes 9 remastered songs from glorious debut, plus Stormwitch cover Ravenlord and Glory to the Brave Radio Edit. CD2 includes 7 live performances. DVD is true feast for HF fans and includes The First Crusade documentary (previously released in VHS format), four new, historically edited interview chapters, Live Dynamo Open Air Festival (1998).
Hammer Fall is one of the rare bands I have been fallowing since the beginning of time. Listening Glory to the Brave from 20 years distance, I am still excited, my heart still pumps faster, adrenaline is high, I have goosebumps, energy at enviable level same as I heard it for the first time two decades ago.
It is still fresh, so if you haven’t heard it yet, what are you waiting for?
HF in 2018 are: