The Swedish are master musicians, but this is no ABBA. Nevertheless, this ABBA-loving metal head truly enjoys crossing the streams and HammerFall's exceptional (r)Evolution helps to achieve that goal.

HammerFall is pure power metal and while it’s possible to make linkages between them and Iron Maiden, I'd argue that HammerFall is more rhythmic in their musicality, resulting in an incredibly addictive sound with exceptionally clear lyrics.

Released in 2014, (r)Evolution is HammerFall’s 9th studio album, having formed in 1993. Amazingly, it has only been due to my adoption of music streaming services, in the last couple of years, that allowed me to explore (r)Evolution and HammerFall’s back catalogue. For all the negatives of streaming, specifically relating to artists getting paid, I’d argue that without streaming I’d never know of HammerFall as they arguably aren't as mainstream as other bands in the genre. That, however, is never an indication of quality.

On the topic of payments to artists, from streaming services, John Darko raises an interesting thought on his Darko.Audio podcast (Ep. 9) whereby he suggests that it’s time artists renegotiated their record contracts with streaming in mind, as it is their legacy contracts that are limiting them financially. There’s certainly logic to Darko's proposed thoughts but change doesn’t happen overnight.

That all said, and before I go completely off topic, let's check out (r)Evolution.

Hector's Hymn is a fantastic song to start the album on. Its tempo is perfect and that semi-acoustic intro is pure gold. Hector's Hymn sets the tone for the entire album and I suggest you turn that volume knob to the right, you'll thank me later, assuming, of course, you're not listening via headphones. Seriously, I also like immersive music, but taking care of our hearing is essential to our longtime appreciation of music.

(r)Evolution is incredible! Cans’ vocal delivery is off the charts. Metal doesn't get much better than this. This is stadium metal 101 and I'm in rhythmic heaven. You better get your air guitar out, you're gonna need it!

Bushido is chest-pumping power metal. I love it!

Live Life Loud shifts quickly following the intro, but that rhythm is out-of-this-world. Without a doubt, Live Life Loud would have to be a perfect song for performing live. It has room for audience interaction as well as sections where the band can jam beautifully, thereby creating a unique experience each time the song is performed.

Ex Inferis is my favourite song on the album. It’s a mix of Dio and Maiden, with a HammerFall twist. Sensational!

We Won't Back Down is a duet with co-producer James Michael. As a fan of Michael’s production work, along with his own band Sixx: A.M., this song is especially pleasing and works incredibly well. It was a smart move by HammerFall to record this duet as Michael's has an exceptional and complementary vocal presence. Pure perfection!

Winter Is Coming slows the album a little, but it's a beautiful song. That guitar solo would melt butter.

Origins is the song that casual listeners would most confuse with Iron Maiden. That isn't a suggestion that HammerFall has merely copied Maiden's style, but they certainly appear to pay homage to them in this anthem-based song.

Tainted Metal is a solid tune, but not necessarily one to write home about. Nevertheless, it works perfectly in the album format.

Evil Incarnate, much like Tainted Metal, is a solid B-side. That said, the vocal repetition as the song closes is incredible.

Wildfire has an interesting backing vocal style. I'm not sure I like it, but it is compellingly addictive. That said, Wildfire is thoroughly enjoyable, even if a little erratic with shifts in style.

The Way Of The Warrior is the final track on this edition of the album and it compels me to listen to the album again and stay within HammerFall’s catalogue. It’s a killer final track.

Overall, there isn't a bad song to be heard on (r)Evolution. It’s exceptional from start to finish and I'd go as far as saying it’s HamerFall's greatest album. Now all I have to do is order the vinyl release. Yes, the artwork demands a larger canvas but this is one album that is worthy of adding to a physical collection. The TIDAL Hi-Fi stream is flawless, but when you love a band and an album this much, you really need to support them as they sadly get peanuts from streaming.

(r)Evolution is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC) and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, (r)Evolution is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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