Legacy of Kings
Cleaner and slicker than their debut, Legacy of Kings was the highly anticipated follow-up to Hammerfall's singular revival of '80s-style power metal Glory to the Brave. Bursting on the European metal scene in 1997, and almost single-handedly reviving an entire genre, Hammerfall placed themselves among the '90s vanguard with their double bass driven, dungeons and dragons epic metal that echoed "pure metal" strains reminiscent of Manowar and European old-school champions Helloween. After breaking sales records and shocking everyone with their music's stunning popularity, the lineup of Joacim Cans (vocals), Patrik Räfling (drums), Oscar Dronjak (guitars), Stefan Elmgren (guitars), and Magus Rosén (bass) returned to the studio greatly encouraged by their success and the unbelievable re-emergence of the power metal they practiced. The resulting collection was strong and steady, if a little predictable. Things start off nicely as four double bass rockers set a blinding pace. With it's exceptional chorus, "Dreamland" represents the musical high point of this first section, if not the entire record. "Warriors of Faith" is another choice track -- with it's tight drumming and accomplished guitar performances. The perfunctory ballads are just a little too cheesy, and Legacy of Kings ultimately fails to burn with the intensity of the group's debut, but '90s power metal rarely gets better than Hammerfall, even when they're slightly off their game. Fans of the genre are certainly recommended to check this record out.