Wacken - 2014

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

A common rule among bands playing at Wacken, is that for special attention they will be one of two things – a reunion show, or a special show, be it an anniversary or with special guests, or both.
We have tried quite a few of these in the past, some greatly appreciated and some not so much. Hammerfall, going all out on this one, delivered a reunion show from a two year hiatus combined with a debut album play-through special show. With guests.

“We are Hammerfall from Gothenburg, Sweden, and we are here to kick your ass again!”
- Joacim Cans (vocals)

Having a huge curtain in front of the Black Stage before beginning led me to believe that the stage would have something quite extraordinary on it – Hammerfall has been known to do advanced setups in the past – so seeing that what they hid was nothing more than a rack of Marshall cabinets was something of a let-down to be honest, even though the band could apparently walk on them. The backdrop was an image of the front cover of the above mentioned album displayed on the video-screen provided by Wacken, and a few shots of fire at odd times, coupled with some smoke-cannons at the front of the stage, was all that we got in the form of special effects stimuli – again, a pretty scraped to the bone setup considering the band we were dealing with.
Still, it’s the music and the bands performance that counts, right?
Well, the music was known, and I don’t think anyone objected to that. For some reason Hammerfall had chosen to mix the track order up completely, starting the set with the Warlord cover Child Of The Damned and then skipping and jumping all over the place. No problem with this though, this way we didn’t know exactly what would happen next even though we all know the album, and worked fine for me.
After all of the Glory To The Brave songs had been run through, the band left shortly only to return and play a secondary set of four more songs, one of which was the new single, Bushido.

“Are you ready for some true German heavy metal from Sweden?!”
- Cans (vocals)

Then there was the performance.
Or, should I say lack thereof? Honestly, I don’t know what was going on with the band, but the delivery was as sub-standard as their stage show! Sure, they walked around a bit, and sometimes they headbanged, but all the time we had the feeling that they weren’t even trying to deliver an interesting show. The only one showing any form of showmanship was Anders Johansson, and he was really hard to see behind that huge drumkit of his.
As an unpredicted counterweight to this, the guest performers, all earlier members of the band, really managed to show some power (pun intended), and helped quite a bit in lifting the show.
First one out was Stefan Elmgren, who relieved Pontus Norgren on guitars (he wasn’t missed much), and then Johansson handed the sticks over to Patrik Räfling, and last but certainly not least, Jesper Strömblad came on and acted as third guitarist (this time Norgren stayed) for The Dragon Lies Bleeding. This especially came as a pleasant surprise, as we haven’t seen Strömblad on stage since back in 2008 with In Flames, and on the contrary to that band, his rocking has not diminished in the least!

“Should we play one or two more? It’s up to you!”
- Cans (vocals)

Luckily for the band, the fans were very forgiving and ate the show up!
In the front I saw a line of some guys with home-made hammers banging their tools and their heads merrily, and throughout the show there were crowd surfers sailing by – nothing extraordinary, but they were there, and they were happy about it!
Of course, no power metal show would be worth its name without sing along sections. Thankfully, Hammerfall for once steered clear of the long shouting competitions, but the audiences’ voices during the songs were loud and proud, and in both Glory To The Brave and Hearts On Fire we got to fly solo for a few lines in the beginning of each song.
Yet I was not impressed. This was a lazy performance from a band which has been capable of so much more, and should be able to pull it off still. Hell, they have just had a two year break, why didn’t they use it to build some energy?


Child Of The Damned (Warlord cover)
The Metal Age
Steel Meets Steel
Stone Cold (feat. Stefan Elmgren)
I Believe
Unchained (feat. Patrik Räfling)
The Dragon Lies Bleeding (feat. Jesper Strömblad)
Glory To The Brave
Any Means Necessary
Blood Bound
Hearts On Fire

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