HammerFall is a heavy metal/power metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden. The band was formed in 1993 by ex-Ceremonial Oath's guitarist Oscar Dronjak.
Early days (1993?1996)
HammerFall began when guitarist Oscar Dronjak quit Ceremonial Oath and invited Jesper Str?mblad (from In Flames, also formerly a member of Ceremonial Oath) to join him as a drummer on a new musical project which he had been idealising for some time. Dronjak had already composed the song "Steel Meets Steel", which was later included on HammerFall's debut album. They were later joined by guitarist Niklas Sundin, bassist Johann Larsson and vocalist Mikael Stanne (from Dark Tranquillity). When Niklas Sundin and Johann Larsson left HammerFall the following year, Glenn Ljungstr?m (ex-In Flames) and Fredrik Larsson (the bassist of the former Swedish death metal band Dispatched) replaced them.
Both Dronjak and Str?mblad took part in other bands at the time: the relatively unsuccessful Crystal Age from Dronjak and the band which to a great extent influenced Swedish melodic death metal, In Flames, from Str?mblad. Thus, HammerFall was relegated to being a side project of them both for several years. Their concerts were limited mostly to a local music contest named Rockslaget. The band had few songs of their own and played mostly covers from bands such as Pretty Maids, Judas Priest and Alice Cooper.
In 1996, HammerFall reached the semi-finals of Rockslaget. However, it was soon found that vocalist Mikael Stanne was not going to be able to perform with the band on the semi-finals. Hence, they began the search for a replacement. Through mutual friends, they got in contact with Joacim Cans, who agreed to play with them for the night. The concert was a success, despite the fact that the judges didn't qualify HammerFall for the finals. By the end of that day, Joacim had already been made an official member of the band.
Glory to the Brave
To give more exposure to their work and try for a professional recording deal, a short live performance was recorded and sent to the Dutch label, Vic Records. The musicians soon received a deal and spent the whole of the following year writing the album Glory to the Brave. The album was initially released in the Netherlands and obtained positive feedback; it is also worthy of notice that the band's mascot, the knight Hector, first appeared on the cover of this album.
As HammerFall grew in popularity, the time available for members of the band to dedicate to other projects became limited. Jesper and Glenn were committed to In Flames and Fredrik was committed to the thrash metal band Beyond. Thus, the HammerFall's line-up soon underwent changes. Stefan Elmgren assumed the lead guitar and Patrik R?fling assumed the drums (they joined the band in the end of 1997 after the release of Glory to the Brave album) and Fredrik decided to remain in the band until a suitable replacement for him was found. This happened in May - 1997, when bassist Magnus Ros?n joined the band. Stefan Elmgren played some of the guitars on the Glory to the Brave album (such as the acoustic guitars on "I Believe") and Patrik R?fling actually played the drums on all songs in place of Jesper, but only as a guest performers, not members of the band.
In early 1997, German label Nuclear Blast approached HammerFall with a contract for a European release deal, which included four albums. The deal was accepted and the band proceeded to record their first two music videos "HammerFall" and "Glory to the Brave". After the release of a promotional single, Glory to the Brave was released throughout Europe. The results were quite unexpected, even after the intense marketing campaign made by Nuclear Blast. The album reached position number 38 on the German Music Chart on the week of its release, something which had never before been achieved by a debut heavy metal music album.
Siding with bands Gamma Ray, Jag Panzer, Lake of Tears and Raven, several tours through the European continent ensued. The concert on Wacken Open Air was performed to a crowd of over ten thousand people.
Towards the end of 1997, Glory to the Brave was released in Japan and the United States. Sales of the album reached one hundred thousand copies. HammerFall was also nominated for the Swedish Grammy award in the Best Hard Rock act category.
Legacy of Kings
In February 1998, the recording of Legacy of Kings began. This album was once more written by Joacim, Oscar, and Jesper, who despite having quit the band still took part in the process in order to keep the same general mood of their first release. The album was produced by Fredrik Nordstr?m (from Dream Evil) and Oscar, with the help of Joacim. The band spent a total of one and a half months in the studio recording this album.
HammerFall made some expressive concerts before the release of Legacy of Kings, playing in festivals together with bands such as Alice Cooper, Rammstein, Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Saxon and Stratovarius.
Their first world tour took place in October 1998. During the shows in Sweden, Joacim Cans caught a serious throat infection which made it impossible for him to sing. Shortly afterwards, Magnus Ros?n was afflicted with the same disease, and after him the whole of HammerFall's support crew became sick. The members of the band played for as long as possible and then were forced to postpone or cancel a few dates. During their passage through South America, HammerFall took a short break to visit the Brazilian beaches, but they soon resumed their tour.
By the end of that tour, drummer Patrik R?fling left the band, and Anders Johansson, a friend of Magnus Ros?n, joined as a touring musician. In the beginning of 1999 he was made a permanent member of the band. Anders had previously worked with guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen on Rising Force and on a number of other projects; he is the brother of Jens Johansson from Stratovarius.
After a long series of concerts, the band returned to Sweden in order to spend time with their families and begin writing songs for their next album. HammerFall made arrangements for this album to be recorded by Michael Wagener, who had previously produced bands such as Accept, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. The recording took eight weeks, and the album was entitled Renegade. The switch from producer Fredrik Nordstr?m to Wagener was met with skepticism from the media in general. However, after the release, critics were mostly positive, even though there was a consensus that the band's sound was remarkably different. A music video by director Roger Johansson was created for the song "Renegade" and reached the top of the Swedish parade; the same soon happened with the album itself, which reached gold status with over forty thousand copies sold.
Oscar stated on www.metalrules.com just prior to the relase of 'Renegade' that they were going for a more "commercial" sound in order to attract a broader audience that otherwise would have been lost to them and that future albums wouldn't follow in this mold.
The band's second world tour began in January 2001. Concerts from this tour counted with a replica version of the album's cover on stage. It was set up as a castle in ruins from which the musicians entered the stage. In total, the tour included almost sixty shows.
The band then released a DVD entitled The Templar Renegade Crusades, which included video footage from recording sessions, live concerts, tour backstages, and encounters with fans. The footage ranged from the recording sessions of Legacy of Kings to the gold album party which took place in November 2001.
HammerFall then proceeded to record their fourth album Crimson Thunder. Arrangements were made for recording sessions to take place in both JM Studios: from Charlie Bauerfeind, in Wisseloord Studios in the Netherlands, and studio Blind Guardian in Germany, for the bass.
By the end of the recording sessions in 2002, a listening session for the press was held. Overall, the reactions were quite positive, and most seemed to perceive the album as a change for the better from Renegade. A single for the song "Hearts on Fire" was released six weeks prior to the album's launch and remained for weeks on the number one spot on the parades of some European countries. The song also attracted a number of new fans to the band due to its chorus-driven melody and simple riffs coupled with fast guitar solos.
The shooting of the music video "Hearts on Fire" by director Roger Johansson was scheduled for August of that year. The band's plans, however, had to be held back for a week due to an incident that occurred one night. While Joacim was drinking with his girlfriend in a rock club he had been frequenting for over a decade, he was attacked by an unidentified person who hit him in the head with a beer glass and hastily escaped. Joacim instantly lost consciousness and had to be taken to a hospital, in which he underwent plastic surgery and rested for a couple of days. As soon as it became medically possible, he joined the band to record the music video.
In order to promote the release of the band's album in North America, they toured with Dio during November and December 2002. Subsequently, the manager of the band disappeared, taking the entirety of the tour's revenue with him. Despite this the tour was very successful, and proceeded to Europe. Changes were made to the band's stage setting, and many investments were made on fireworks and on the presence of the mascot Hector on stage. The scenery on the cover of the single Hearts on Fire was also reproduced and added to the performances. The tour progressed to Japan and then to South America. HammerFall was present on festivals in Germany, Spain and the Czech Republic, playing with bands such as Iron Maiden, Slayer, Twisted Sister, U.D.O. and Stratovarius.
HammerFall's tour was brought to a sudden end when Oscar Dronjak suffered a motorcycle accident, breaking his left arm and sustaining several minor injuries.
They were then left with no choice but to take a break. Stefan dedicated himself to getting a pilot license, Magnus and Anders continued working on their side projects and Joacim began work on his solo album and had his first child. Oscar simply focused on recovering. Together with a group of specialists, he was able to recover to his full capacities. He then joined Anders, Joacim, Stefan again, with bands Helloween, Gamma Ray and Pretty Maids, amongst others, and played in the celebration of the 20 years of the German rock club Rockfabrik.
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken
The live album and DVD One Crimson Night was released in February 2003. After two years of hiatus the band released Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, which was followed by a European and South American tour. A video for the song "Bloodbound" was made by director Roger Johansson.
On October 16 it was reported that HammerFall (along with the band Europe) would be part of the Eurovision song contest. This rumor was refuted by lead singer Joacim Cans only a couple weeks later. Joacim was quoted as saying "So there were no talks whatsoever to be part of this."
Their 6th album, titled Threshold, was released on October 20, 2006 and it went directly to a number 1 position on the Swedish charts.
On March 6, 2007, a statement was posted online at HammerFall's official website (and his own official website), that bassist Magnus Ros?n would not be involved with the band anymore. The reason for his departure stated that he was unhappy in the band and wants to focus on other projects. On his own website (and therefore with his own official statement) it was announced that Magnus was tired of the simple bassplaying he was forced to play in HammerFall, and that he was unable to bring his own material to the band. He now wants to "be more creative in his career". On April 10 it was announced on the official Hammerfall homepage that the replacement for Magnus is former member Fredrik Larsson, who played bass on the Glory to the Brave album. Three new songs were recorded for the band's first compilation album. These are "Last Man Standing", "Restless Soul", and "The Abyss". They also rerecorded the Glory To The Brave track "HammerFall". "Steel Meets Steel - Ten Years of Glory" was released on 12 October 2007.
On April 2, 2008 Stefan Elmgren announced his decision to leave HammerFall in order to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. His replacement is Pontus Norgren from The Poodles. On June 27 2008, the band released the compilation album "Masterpieces". The album has on it a collection of every song the band has covered, plus three new cover songs previously unreleased. This was Stefan Elmgren's last release with the band.
No Sacrifice, No Victory
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HammerFall's latest studio album titled No Sacrifice, No Victory was released in the UK on 23 February 2009. Songs on this album include "Any Means Necessary", "Life is Now", "Punish and Enslave", "Bring the Hammer Down", and a My Sharona cover. The Album peaked at #38 on the Billboard heatseakers charts. There is also a music video for the song "Any Means Necessary".
All HammerFall releases
Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
All HammerFall releases
Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009)
Bass, Backing Vocals
Glory to the Brave (1997), then from Steel Meets Steel (2007) onward
From Renegade (2000) onward
From Glory to the Brave (1997 Single) to Masterpieces (2008)
From Glory to the Brave (1997 Single) to Threshold (2006)
From Glory to the Brave (1997) to I Want Out (1999 Single)
Song writing on the three first albums and the latest one.
Glory to the Brave (1997)