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Hammerfall: Gates of Dalhalla
Since 1999, Hammerfall has issued a total of five DVDs,ranging from biography to live performances. THey also issued the companion live album for One Crimson Night in 2003. For the end of 2012, they present yet another live DVD itled Gates of Dalhalla. Unfortunately, Nuclear Blast has only sent over the audio files for this latest recording, so all I have to go by is the material found on the accompanying live audio discs, and not the visual aspects.

The concert starts with an introduction reminiscent of their last album, Infected. A break in occurs, or perhaps a break out, with alarms blaring and a voice warning of a contamination of some kind. The crowd is whipped into a bit of a frenzy, and the music for “Patient Zero” kicks in, cascading the venue in a grim musical world that only lasts through this song. The tone lightenx once “Heeding the Call” begins. There seems to be no crowd reaction captured, and you could blame the audio and microphones, but you can hear the audience cheering prior to the colo of this song. This does end up hurting the overall performance a bit when it’s clear the crowd is to chant in harmony to the song, the group giving them the chance, and you either cant’ hear it, or pick up on a soft whisper such as when the music dies down and the crowd also claps along towards the end.

One thing that becomes apparent right away with the performance is that the music is where much of the energy and enthusiasm comes from. The vocals, however, are largely kept to a softer tone with a lower range. This is evident during the bridge of “Riders of the Storm” that hits prior to the guitar solo. The higher pitches are not matched in the singing, and in fact it ends up sounding dull, holding the song back a bit. But, overall, it’s still an enjoyable track to sit back and listen to, just more of a casual experience than an empowering one. Even when vocalist Joacim Cans addresses the crowd, it’s still restrained. Here and then, you can tell he is having some fun, much like the start of “Let’s Get it On” which shows a little more passion in his overall performance, even whn introducing the song itself. There’s also the rougher edged “Steel Meets Steel” worth experiencing for a stronger kick to the ass.

But, one of the most impressive elements of this release is the drum solo by Anders. Coming right off the infectious and somewhat more energetic “Fury of the Wild,” the piece lasts a little over three minutes. It starts off ont he faster side, eventually slowing down to usher in the ballad “Always Will Be.” This is easily one of most beautiful and stirring songs of the concert, perfectly matching the lower tone the band has been bringing with them. There’s also the stirring operatic piece “Of Fortuna” that is handled quite well, ushering in “Glory to the Brave” qauite well.

But, lack of enthusiasm aside, largely because Hammerfall has never been that enthusiastic a group in the first place, Gates of Dalhalla shows a band taking pride in their work. Every song on this DVD soiunds pretty close to the original, and there’s plenty of classics distributed among the twenty plus tracks. There are plenty of classic Hammerfall hits that span their past discography, as well as their more recent crowd favorites. Sure, of the twenty five, there’s still some missing that would perfectly fit the performance, such as “Never Ever” and “I Want Out,” and it’s sad these vintage pieces aren’t here. Of course, the finale does incorporate “Hammerfall,” the recent “One More Time,” and the always enjoyable “Hearts on Fire,” so there’s that to round the performance out with at least. But, overall, if you’re a fan of the band, the audio does hold up well enough to make an enjoyable recording, and hopefully the visual aspects are just as engaging, if not moreso.

Hammerfall (band)

Digital audio files of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.