Amager Bio, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Hammerfall’s latest effort, Built To Last, had hit the streets only a few months prior, and the band was now out on tour promoting it, aptly called the Built To Tour.
With them were Gloryhammer from Scotland, and Lancer from Sweden, and Copenhagen was the very final gig on the tour.

“We are Hammerfall from across the bridge, but I guess you already knew that?”
- Joacim Cans (vocals)

Especially Gloryhammer has done a great effort in warming us up, and now that it was time for the headliner, we were certainly good to go, ready for the good shit, as they say. And by god, if Hammerfall didn’t seem ready to deliver!
They were on track with a good looking old-school stage build up, with gargoyles reminding me of Notre Dame and old horror movies (and, of course, the cover image of the album), and in tune with the old horror movie reference, the intro also sounded like a movie thunderstorm. Things were shaping up nicely so far!
Well, out comes the band, and they head pretty straight from intro to the first song, which was the anthemic Hector’s Hymn. Ok, so not their biggest hit, but it has power and a good sing-along factor in the chorus, and that’s good.
No, apart from the new stage decor, there was another thing new to the band, and that was the drummer! Hammerfall have seen a few changes through the years, but the drumming position has always been one of the stable pillars to lean on. Anders Johansson may not have been an original member, but he was with the band for a full 15 years, before being replaced by David Wallin of Pain fame. Well, apparently he’s out as well now, and behind the double bass drum is a new, yet familiar face. Johan Koleberg was the name, and his best known stint is probably in playing for eight years in Therion. Less known, but at least equally important to some of us, is that Koleberg was the house drummer for the Dreams In The Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera album. Another, yet slightly more far-fetched, horror reference. Enough of them for now.

Speaking of new things however, Hammerfall brought along some new songs as well. However, even though Built To Last was the most heavily represented album on the setlist, the mix overall was quite evenly divided out between the band’s now many releases. It can’t be easy for a band with so many years on them to keep it fresh, but Hammerfall did steer clear of at least a few of the most obvious live staples. If this was a good thing, is another question. Other live staples, like Renegade, were still reluctantly shoved into the limelight. If this was a good thing, is yet another question.

“Don’t be fooled. We may look old on the outside, but we’re fucking young on the inside!”
- Cans (vocals)

The good-looking décor had one major drawback, and that was that the size of it was not just a hindrance or the support bands, but also for Hammerfall itself. Sure, it could be climbed, and that helped a bit, but it didn’t leave too much space at the front of the stage.
This didn’t stop the band members from both jumping and posing. There was also a lot of walking from side to side, clothes changes (especially on Oscar Dronjak’s side, although stripping is probably more accurate than changing), and instrument changes, again mostly on Dronjak’s side. Did you know that he not only has one, but TWO of the hammer shaped guitars? One for playing on, and one apparently only for swinging around. It had lights in it.
Even with all the physical movement the band provided, the show still had a very stiff feeling to it. Yes, they all walked about, but it was in a very predetermined way. Every step, every lifted guitar, every headbang was carefully planned and rehearsed, and there was absolutely no place for improvisation in the concert.
The plus side of this, is that Hammerfall was insanely tight, more so than I remember any band in recent time.
On the minus side however, the lack of presence in the here and now severely affected how involved one could become in the concert.

“If anyone here is allowed to be tired, it’s us! We’ve played 23 shows over four weeks, and we’re giving you everything!”
- Cans (vocals)

Yes, the band felt tired. Ok, so this was the final show of the tour, but honestly, it was neither the longest tour in the history of rock, nor was it the most compact one. This does not excuse the fact that Hammerfall was running on pure routine, and nothing else.
Copenhagen was a forgiving place however, and cheered their favourite Templars on as the show progressed. Not too forgiving though, and looking around me, I could see that the size of the crowd was slowly thinning from about halfway through show. Arms were still raised, as were voices for cheers and sing-along sections. Glory To The Brave was a good example of the latter, and this even saw Cans and Pontus Norgren play down in the security pit. A nice, and well needed, break from the monotony, that had really crept in during the medley played just before.
And that’s another thing. I get why a band would play a medley. It gives them the chance to at least touch on a few songs that wouldn’t otherwise have made the cut. And in this particular case, it gave Cans a rest, as it was mostly instrumental. While I get it though, I refuse to accept it. Having this long section which essentially doesn’t lead anywhere, kills the momentum of the concert, given there is one to speak of. And only touching on songs isn’t at all satisfying in the long run, and we’d all be much happier having a real song, to sing along to!

This being the last show of the tour, I was really hoping for, and half expecting, some form of extra playfulness. It’s not unheard of that bands play pranks on each other at this show, and in my mind’s eye, I had envisioned the most epic showdown of the hammers – Hammerfall in one corner, Gloryhammer in the other. Possibly set to the tunes of Hammer Smashed Face, Square Hammer, or some other fitting song.
None of this would happen though, absolutely nothing, and I felt this was a huge missed opportunity.
To be honest though, this is how I ended up feeling about the entire concert. Hammerfall had so much going for them in the beginning, and they even promised us a much better show than the short one they delivered, supporting Pretty Maids on this very stage back in 2015.
Well, they didn’t deliver on that promise, that’s for sure. If anything, they should go back and look at what they did there, because that was a show that really kicked ass!
I hope they manage to pull themselves out of this ditch for their next tour, or the future is what truly looks horrifying the band. This was clearly not built to last!


Hector’s Hymn
Riders Of The Storm
Bring It!
Blood Bound
Any Means Necessary
Dethrone And Defy
Crimson Thunder
Last Man Standing
Let The Hammer Fall
Built To Last
Medley To The Brave
Glory To The Brave
Punish And Enslave
Hammers High
Hearts On Fire

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