HammerFall

No Sacrifice, No Victory

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Hammerfall have had plenty of lineup changes since 1993, and 2009's No Sacrifice, No Victory finds the Swedish headbangers unveiling yet another new lineup. This time, the participants are Joacim Cans on lead vocals, Oscar Dronjak and Pontus Norgren on guitar, Fredrik Larsson on bass, and Anders Johansson on drums; guitarist Stefan Elmgren is gone, and so is bassist Magnus Rosen. But despite all the personnel changes that Hammerfall have experienced along the way, their sound hasn't changed much -- and on No Sacrifice, No Victory, they maintain their 1970s/1980s-based power metal orientation. A title like No Sacrifice, No Victory is as stereotypically power metal as it gets, and larger-than-life offerings such as "Legion," "By Any Means Necessary," and "Punish and Enslave" don't run away from power metal's dungeons-and-dragons stereotypes. In fact, Hammerfall's 2009 lineup enthusiastically embraces those stereotypes -- and while the results are predictable, they are inspired more often than not. No Sacrifice, No Victory's most surprising track is an unexpected cover of the Knack's 1979 hit "My Sharona"; Hammerfall take the song out of new wave and place it in pop-metal of the Kiss/Quiet Riot/Ratt variety. "My Sharona" is the only thing on this 49-minute CD that isn't power metal, and it's an enjoyable departure from the rest of the album. No Sacrifice, No Victory isn't Hammerfall's best or most consistent release, but there are more strong tracks than weak ones -- and many die-hard Hammerfall fans in Europe will no doubt acquire the disc simply because it is by Hammerfall.

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