Power metal was considered outdated when HAMMERFALL released its "Glory To The Brave" debut in 1997. Save for BLIND GUARDIAN, very few power metal acts actually increased in popularity throughout the decade, with the style's pioneering band, HELLOWEEN, struggling to regain footing after lineup changes, and alternative and grunge music taking precedence, effectively pushing out more melodic forms of heavy music. That started to change with the release of "Glory To The Brave" as well as STRATOVARIUS's "Visions", two albums issued in the same year that was widely credited with leading the second wave of power metal. Since then, power metal has enjoyed a resurgence and staying power that is owed as much to the foundation laid by HELLOWEEN as the resilience of HAMMERFALL, which recently released its 11th studio album, "Dominion".
In an interview with Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast, HAMMERFALL vocalist Joacim Cans reflected on the band's emergence on the scene and what happened when bands of a similar nature started coming out of the woodwork.
"I think, one, if we're talking about HAMMERFALL, I think what has really made us big was that no one really expected an album like 'Glory To The Brave' to be released in 1997," he said. "That was a period when melodic heavy metal music was almost forgotten. It was a [dirty word]. Throughout the '90s, I had to defend myself all the time. People said, 'Why don't you play music people want to hear?' Well, my response was always, 'Because I play the music that I want to play. That is what heavy metal is all about.' Follow the beat of your drum. That's the only thing I can say. From then on, it feels like that was the second coming of the heavy metal movement."
He continued: "We opened up a lot of doors back in the late '90s, but all of a sudden, every label all over the world wanted to have their own HAMMERFALL. The whole genre, the whole market got kind of flooded by bands that wanted to sound like GAMMA RAY and they sounded exactly that version of it. It was a lot of copycats around that almost killed it. I think people were so fed up with this so-called 'power metal wave' that came, and I couldn't stand it either. Because I never saw HAMMERFALL as a power metal band. I always saw us as a traditional heavy metal band. But now, we're 22 years later, and we are still a band that people are listening to, a band that people can count on, and a band that people really talk about. Twenty-two years. If you go back and look at the '80s, the '80s was not even a decade. That was six, maximum seven years, then the whole genre kind of imploded. All of a sudden people cared more about what they looked like instead of learning how to play an instrument, then the grunge came and just took over. But I think metal in 2019 is very healthy. I think now it's standing very solid and you have bands who will take over when the dinosaurs die out."
"Dominion" was released August 16 via Napalm Records. For the disc, HAMMERFALL re-teamed with James Michael to do vocals at Red Level Three studios, and Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman at Castle Black Studios for the instruments.