In the span of two weeks, we have gotten the visit of some legends in the European Power Metal scene, Rhapsody of Fire rocked the TD Studio and now it’s time for Hammerfall to grace us with their presence.
We are packed inside the Fairmount Theatre, what’s with Montreal and their old theatres giving us some major Metal shows throughout the last few decades? We have the Corona Theatre as well and it’s tough to find another venue that has better sound, but the Fairmount Theatre is damn close.
Hammerfall is often forgotten in the European Power Metal genesis from the middle of the 90s. All the praise has been given to bands like Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, and Rhapsody yet Hammerfall are as important as all of them. A little bit like Heathen in the Florida Thrash Metal scene, they never got the respect they earned but have been a constant in the genre. They released an awesome album back in 2022 titled ‘’Hammer of Dawn’’, such a surprising album that blew me away and might have been my favorite album of last year. Even after 30 years, they have adapted their sound and continued to hammer on (pun intended).
They are celebrating their North American Brotherhood, 30th-anniversary tour with a stop in La Belle Province with local bands opening for them on every spot. They wanted to give the chance to younger bands to open instead of bringing another band with them like Rhapsody of Fire did by bringing veterans Wind Rose and Seven Kingdoms with them on their ongoing tour. So Hammerfall gave the chance of a lifetime tonight to the young melodic thrash metal whippersnappers, Dissymmetry, and veteran Folk Death Metal band, Valfreya.
Dissymmetry has opened for every genre of metal under the sun, and they felt kind of out of place tonight. Ace Baldwin has an intense presence on stage, like a fiery young Dave Mustaine (even down to the trademark red hair!). She is the highlight of the band, all eyes are on her when she is on stage yet, you feel there is such a progression in her presence on stage. I have seen the band several times and this time she felt at home under the bright lights and has overcome her shyness. A band to look for in the local Montreal scene, hopefully, a full-fledged release in the coming future. A solid performance and the crowd were into it, not wholeheartedly but they established the tone and rhythm of the night’s evening. The crowd was much more into them than the following band…
Valfreya is the token local band opening for anything Power Metal so it was no surprise that they would be opening for Hammerfall. Corinne Cardinal is their lead singer; she does the growling and the clean vocals. She has a good presence, but her vocal styling does not fit well with the rest of the band. Speaking of the rest of the band, there were 6 on stage and there were too many cooks in the kitchen. They felt disorganized and stepped on the toes of the other members. It was chaotic at best. The violinist, which may be the best member of the band and does an amazing job, well felt squeezed by the lead guitarist and the singer. After the first song, all hell broke loose, their computer on stage crashed and they tried to fix it and felt completely lost and the crowd was not having any of it. When you rely too much on technology, this can and will happen but when you do not have a plan B when everything goes haywire, well it feels unprofessional and amateur at best. It took 20 minutes to fix it, hell, I think they just abandoned the computer all in all and played just another song after that, a cover of an old Quebec folkloric song. It was a trainwreck for a band that has been it for over a decade, this lacked a proper base, and professionalism you have to had to be taken seriously.
Well, it’s time for the masters of ceremony, Hammerfall. They are opening for Helloween on their North American tour yet they have off-dates from this particular tour and Montreal is part of those dates. It’s their first show in Montreal in almost 4 years but they have been coming here for almost 20 years on pretty much each of their tours. Montreal has embraced Power Metal like no one, especially the European Power Metal bands. We have opened our arms to them since the late nineties and we have been fortunate to have so many bands coming here to see us.
Right off the bat with the lead single from their new album, ‘’Brotherhood’’, you felt something in the air. Something resonated in the crowd, the lyrics of their song is dedicated to us, metalheads young and old, this brotherhood and bond we have with all each other.
Through fire and ice, and through thunderous skies
For better and for worse
A lifetime devotion, a glorious call
Bringing magic to our heavy metal ball
We hear our brothers sing along
While our sisters standing strong
We would not be here without you
This tour is to celebrate with their fans their aforementioned 30th anniversary. The best thing is that they decided to play songs from throughout their amazing career. A whole bunch of bands celebrate an anniversary with a specific set of songs and it’s never thorough, yet Hammerfall busted out songs dating from their incredible first album ‘’Glory to the Brave’’ and songs from pretty much every album they have ever done including one hell of a rendition of ‘’Hammer High’’ from ‘’Built to Last’’. It felt complete, it felt like an ode to everything they have done to this point, and that’s a rare sight obviously.
You can feel that they were soaking in every moment and felt happy to be on stage. The whole show (and setlist) felt like a celebration of the past and present and a deep look into the future of the band. Joacim Cans had the crowd in the palm of his hand for a veteran Power Metal singer, he can still belt it out with the best of them. They had the crowd dancing and screaming with ‘’Hearts on Fire’’, and you can’t have a Hammerfall show without the incredible ‘’The Metal Age’’. It’s the song that made me discover Power Metal back in 1997 and a whole lot of you discovered them with the same song. The crowd really enjoyed that song and rightfully so. It’s been 25 years and he still signs it note for note, his live voice is even better than in the studio. The band has limited stuff on stage, a few amps and that’s it, it’s minimalist but it packs a serious punch.
The loudest cheers and applause came from the 20th-anniversary medley of the album ‘’Crimson Thunder’’. A much-lauded and appreciated Power Metal album and fans were clamoring for me after that medley and it felt like a celebration of an anniversary inside another anniversary. And yes we got the curling song, well the Sweden Olympic Team theme, the much-maligned yet fun song entitled ‘’(We Make) Sweden Rock’’. A fun-loving over the top song that gets your motor running and it’s just plain fun. The smiles in the crowd were very noticeable and it was a party atmosphere.
1 – Brotherhood
2 – Any Means Necessary
3 – The Metal Age
4 – Hammer of Dawn
5 – Blood Bound
6 – Renegade
7 – Venerate Me
8 – Last Man Standing
9 – Hero’s Return / On the Edge of Honour / Riders of the Storm / Crimson Thunder
(Crimson Thunder 20th anniversary medley)
10 – Let the Hammer Fall
11 – No Son of Odin
12 – (We Make) Sweden Rock
13 – Hammer High
14 – Hearts on Fire
Compared to Rhapsody of Fire that played much more recent material and just a few classics, Hammerfall went all in and displayed proudly what brought them to the dance the local bands established an atmosphere before the main event and they did an honorable job in opening for Hammerfall. Even though the genres didn’t mesh well with their Swedish counterparts, all in all, it felt much more like a party than anything else, and on an otherwise mundane holiday Monday, they brought some happiness to start off the week!
I have seen many Power Metal bands through the years but this was the most intense, personal, and best performance I have seen. It was packed to the gills in the Fairmount Theatre and let’s hope they come back soon!
Live Performance5/5 AmazingI have seen many Power Metal bands through the years but this performance of Hammerfall was the most intense and personal I have seen.
Overall Sound4.5/5 Very GoodIt felt much more like a party than anything else, and on an otherwise mundane holiday Monday, they brought some happiness to start off the week!