Hammer King – Hammer King (Napalm)Tuesday, 22nd June 2021
Continuing to fly the flag for power metal, Hammer King since 2015 have been steadily gaining traction for a tried and true, anthem-oriented style that usually goes down a storm across mainland Europe. After fulfilling their contract with Cruz Del Sur Music, signing to Napalm Records should increase the worldwide reach on this self-titled effort, their fourth and first since 2018’s Poseidon Will Carry Us Home. You can expect more of the same thunderous drumming and steady power guitar foundation along with the higher range vocal melodies from Titan Fox that are mandatory for the Hammer King platform – as well as a few special vocal guests to add some depth/heaviness to one of the key tracks.
Specific songs contain those massive vocal choir accents which when contrasting against Titan’s obvious impeccable range (think a better Joacim Cans overall) serve as aural pirate hooks next to the marching/battle-tested musical components for the six-minute “Atlantis (Epilogue)” or the speedier “In the Name of the Hammer” where bassist Gladius Thundersword garners equal sonic framing. Smartly opening the record without a bombastic ‘atmosphere’ intro and bursting with catchy guitars and metal to the bone drumming for “Awaken the Thunder”, the harmony runs and transitions speak to Teutonic glory, marrying the best of Helloween, Grave Digger, and classic Hammerfall. Listeners have plenty of time to raise fists, shields, or favored battle armor while shouting and singing along to key parts – that’s what this type of traditional power metal favors. Familiar lyrical content of battle, glory, kingdoms, and such is another staple – which could be predictable to some, and par for the course for others that desire something that doesn’t vary from what they love about this genre. The galloping licks of “Baptized by the Hammer” along with the bevy of talent vocally added to “Hammerschlag” (Gerre of Tankard, Issac of Epica, and The Crusader of Warkings a part of this Primal Fear-like cut) are standouts – yet once again, it just feels like Hammer King don’t really serve anything at the metal table that you haven’t heard done better or more effectively from the bigger bands of this genre.
Hammer King may appease the indiscriminate follower of old school power metal who loves all the cliches, choirs, jubilant riffs, and anthems to glory – but those hoping for something new and different in this genre need look elsewhere.