By Jason Wellwood
Before I’d even had a chance to listen to Infected, I’d read how Hammerfall had ‘abandoned its power metal roots’ or ‘become a modern rock band’. Honestly, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect when I put Infected on for the first time. I wasn’t sure exactly what I got after listening to it the first time either. Infected is definitely a grower album and maybe that’s the reason ‘fans’ are not getting it right away. There are obvious power metal-esque tracks on here like ‘B.Y.H.’ (Bang Your Head) which actually leans more towards a traditional NWOBHM sound, and both ‘Dia de los Muertos’ and ‘Let’s Get It On’ will get fists pumping in the stadium but, overall, the band opts for a darker, more rock based sound. The tempo, overall of Infected is a little slower as well which, again, may be troublesome to purists. We’ve all heard the ‘as soon as they changed the logo it was all over’ or ‘no mascot on this album, it’s not the same band’ logic coming out of metal fans, and we may even have spewed it ourselves however, true music lovers are there for the music, the musicians and the song writing (although kickass artwork is a plus). Musically, Infected is a solid album although it is a grower and I think it needs at least two or three good listens before judging it. Your expectations need to be left at the door so to speak. Hammerfall sound just as tight as ever, the guitar work on this album is fantastic and both guitarists turn in some of their best work in the last little while. Joacim Cans is a terrifically underrated metal vocalist and again, he turns in a stellar performance.
The song writing and subject matter are the real risks here. The band opting for this darker subject matter of zombies, post apocalyptic worlds and battles between Heaven and Hell clash a little with their previous songs of Templars and swords. Good and evil in the past seemed a little less tangible, this time around Hammerfall are creating their own horror movie and bringing us along for the ride. Sceptical as I was, I’m pretty happy with Infected and if it marks a turn to a rockier, darker band, I’m with them. If it was just a side step before returning to foot-on-the-monitor-fist-in-the-air power metal, I’m all for that too.