Anyone into traditional heavy metal has probably heard of Hammerfall. The Swedish metallers have been knocking out albums since 1997, with no sign of running out of steam in the near future.
Which brings us to their latest album, the appropriately titled Built to Last. Long-serving bassist Fredrik Larsson got in touch to tell us how and why the band definitely live up to this album’s title…
Introduce us to Hammerfall
We’ve been playing classic Heavy Metal since 20 years now so if you’re into that kind of music you’ve probably at least heard about us.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
I listen to all kinds of music but here’s a couple I’ve enjoyed lately: Karnivool, Mastodon, Dunderbeist, Pete Thorn, his pedal demos on YouTube is just awesome! Queens of the Stone Age.
Would you say the title is a reflection of the Hammerfall’s longevity over the years?
Absolutely! When we recorded our debut album, ‘Glory to the Brave’, in ’96 pretty much no one thought we even would record a second one. Now, 20 years later, we just released our 10th studio album and that is a clear statement that Hammerfall is definitely Built to Last!
What inspires you to still create metal after so long?
We all get inspired by a lot of different things but just by looking back and listen to some of those records that made us discover Heavy Metal in the first place really make a strong impact. Even today! Of course we want to make those records and make people discover Heavy Metal. And we make music that we want to listen to ourselves.
How would you say Hammerfall has developed over the years, and how has this led up to your latest release?
We still play classic Heavy Metal and that’s the way we want it to be. But even though we want to sound like our childhood heroes we don’t want to sound outdated. We sound classic but fresh I guess I would describe it. Fredrik Nordström who produced our two latest albums did a fantastic job to make us sound modern but not trendy. And the songs work really well together, it’s still a bit early to get the full picture but it feels like a pretty solid album.
Was there a defining point in the creation of your new album where you thought you had something special, or was it more ‘business as usual’?
For me it’s kind of hard to get the whole idea from the beginning. It’s all in Oscar and Joacim’s mind. I get a raw demo of the songs and the structure is already there so all in all it’s a finished song but without the icing on the cake. It’s in the studio where the songs really comes alive and we all put our pieces together. Only then I understand the mind behind the demo. It’s funny but it seems like it’s always like that.
Tell us about the album artwork
We returned to work with Andreas Marshall on the previous album, ‘r(Evolution)’, and that was a way to somewhat sum up that we returned back to our roots. He made the artwork on the three first albums and it feels good to have him back. Of course we have a dialogue about the covers but he’s pretty much free to interpret the album. And so far he’s been nailing it!
What are the songs about on Built to Last?
That’s a question for Joacim to answer but I guess it’s free to interpret. As always Hammerfall is all about standing tall and fight for what you believe in!
How was the music written?
Oscar usually writes most of the music and Joacim most of the lyrics and melodies. Pontus writes some music as well. As I said before, we get a rough demo and then we add our layers on that. Oscar told me that it was quite hard to get going this time. He had to sit down and just write something every day in order to get up the flow and finally the pieces came together. It’s hard because you can’t dictate inspiration.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
It’s hard to say but one of my odd favourites is ‘Second to None’. A vocal driven and quite soft song but nevertheless a lot of Hammerfall in it. It has something special about it, something with the structure that makes it stand out. And the ending is just epic.
Do you have any upcoming tours that you want to talk about?
We’re actually in the middle of our European tour right now! We just did some shows in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland but we have a lot of shows left. And later on we have a big North American tour coming up.
What are the next steps for the band?
Aside from the tours we have a lot of festivals this summer. We will continue to promote this album and we have some plans for this fall as well but nothing is confirmed yet so it’s hard to speak about.
Any final words?
I know that we at least have one confirmed festival in the UK and hopefully some more dates will follow. Thanks for having me and I hope to see you all out on the road somewhere!