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HammerFall – Infected: Review

HammerFall released their latest album entitled Infected on May 20 through Nuclear Blast. Personally, I quite like the heavy-power metal genre. But I find that many bands have trouble escaping standardization within the genre – Infected is no exception.

The Music (rating: B)

  1. Patient Zero
  2. Bang Your Head
  3. One More Time
  4. The Outlaw
  5. Send Me a Sign
  6. Dia De Los Muertos
  7. I Refuse
  8. 666 – The Enemy Within
  9. Immortalized
  10. Let’s Get it On
  11. Redemption

Infected is, as expected from HammerFall, a heavy-power metal album. It is quite focused on the guitar and vocals. The latter are powerful and fairly high-pitched. Unlike much of power metal, there is no use of keyboards. However, there are two guitar tracks going, which most likely contributes to the “heavy” feel. There are a lot of head-banging riffs as well as some mighty double-bass drum rhythms, which most likely contribute to the “power” feel. Also, there is the odd ballad section (such as “Send Me a Sign”), but this is no doubt a heavy-power metal album.

For the most part, Infected is very loyal to its genre. As an unfortunate consequence, it can feel quite generic at times. Such songs as “One More Time” and “Let’s Get it On” are so predictable and standard as to even become annoying at times. But there are some really great things done within the confines of the genre as well, including the nice break riff in “Immortalized”. Though this record can be limited to the characteristics of its style, the music is more often than not executed at a respectable level. But the fact is that the album is well within the walls of heavy-power metal.

The instrumentals in Infected are quite well done for the most part. There are a lot of solos and though most of them are decent, some are filler. Again, this seems to be due to following the genre too strictly. But no doubt, there are many good ones. There are some good riffs but also some standard ones. The bass and drums do not play a huge role in the spotlight, and are not overly memorable. However, they do their task in holding the music together. The vocals are very good in terms of power and range. There are not any monstrous wails, but they have good phrasing and tone in the high areas. They can be annoying at times both due to the melody and lyrical content, most particularly in “I Refuse”. Also, the power varies very little throughout the album. The ballad, “Send Me a Sign”, undoubtedly should have been sung with more finesse rather than the overwhelming force of a power metal voice. But overall, the instruments are quite good.

Just like the instruments, the songwriting is generally good but somewhat spotty. Personally, I have issues with several breaks and transitions. Sometimes, the transition riffs are out-of-place, such as on “Bang Your Head”. They seem so underdeveloped and unwarrantedly sudden and come and go as they please. Of course, there are some good immediate transitions, such as that of “666 – The Enemy Within”. But again, other pieces like “One More Time” and “Dia De Los Muertos” had uncomfortable break sections. For the most part, the songwriting is decent but most certainly has visible flaws. Again, it is nothing out of the ordinary.

Infected is overall better than average. There are some really good things done, but also some bad things. Some parts are overly generic to the point of being irritating and the album as a whole remains safely within the definition of heavy-power metal. Still, many things are done at a level higher than what is expected from the genre. The bottom line is that there are too many negative aspects compromising the greatness this record could have attained.

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