In the press release for Dominion, the new studio album from Hammerfall, lead vocalist Joacim Cans describes being in the band as “To me, Hammerfall is home”. You have to agree with his sentiment as this is his eleventh album with them since joining in 1997. Dominion is another addition to their arsenal of melodic power metal and these twelve tracks are cocked, loaded and ready to be fired on August 19th.
A ‘calm before the storm’ intro of gentle guitar lines for opening track ‘Never Forgive, Never Forget’ see it morph into a heavy powerchord, kick-drum driven headbanger. Riffs gather momentum midway to back up the shimmering twin lead work from Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren and the song ends on those gentle guitar lines. Heartbeat drum patterns give an intense pulse to the title track as simple but effective riffs give us an early anthem with big band backing vocals for extra oomph! ‘Testify’ is a chest-beating, call to arms power metal war cry of a tune featuring a raging guitar overloaded midsection. ‘One Against The World’ will be a sure-fire fists in the air crowd pleaser when played live. There are lashings of melody between the pounding drum patterns from David Wallin as it heads off into a Maidenesque gallop midway. ‘(We Make) Sweden Rock’ sees them pay tribute to their home country as Joacim gives an emotional patriotic vocal, especially in the choruses. Intense riffing ups the ante.
‘Second To One’ is an intense, spine-tingling ballad that takes things down a notch or two but still impresses on all levels as they put the pedal to the floor for ‘Scars Of A Generation’. Air guitars are mandatory throughout for the incendiary riffing and solos as Joacim soars high. ‘Dead By Dawn’ is another glorious power ballad. Real feel good heavy metal with choruses guaranteed to have you hollering along to them. ‘Battleworn’ is a brief guitar intro to ‘Bloodline’. Shockwave forming rhythms slow down briefly midway to let the guitar solos cut through like a knife. Tinges of Manowar come to mind in the muscled up intro to ‘Chain Of Command’ as it heads off into melodically tinged metal and more ear-splitting vocals.
I was expecting another ballad for the final track ‘And Yet I Smile’ but was not far wrong aside from its thrilling bombast backing for a heart on sleeve vocal and twin lead segments midway.