Hammerfall

Live at The Wiltern Theatre

Los Angeles, CA

October 11th, 2019

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Hammerfall return to Los Angeles on their Dominion tour with the mighty Sabaton. The Swedish combo of two of the premiere power metal bands in the world packed the Wiltern to capacity.

Hammerfall played a headlining gig here in West Hollywood only a month prior, but that did not stop the Hammer-heads from coming out in force once more. Playing a vastly larger venue. and with the aid of Sabaton's fan base coming early, they played to their largest crowd in Los Angeles to date.

Hammerfall's roster includes Joacim Cans on lead vocals, Oscar Dronjak on lead guitar, Pontus Norgren on guitar, Fredrik Larsson on bass guitar, and David Wallin on drums. I am used to seeing them play much smaller venues where the five musicians are packed tightly together, on this stage they had copious amounts of room to move about and Joacim used it to full effect.

Hammerfall chose a selection of songs that covered a large number of their fan favorites but opted for the less fantasy based songs for the most part, which I suppose was fitting for their pairing with Sabaton, who are one hundred percent about historically accurate events and solidly grounded in more modern times.

They kicked off the set with "Never Forgive, Never Forget" from their latest album, "Dominion", and followed it up with another new song, "One Against the World". Hammerfall's latest album is top notch, and I would have loved to hear a lot more from it, but with a largely new audience, it was time to introduce them to many of their past glories.

They started off with the biker anthem, "Renegade" followed by a call to solidarity of brotherhood (and sisterhood) with "Blood Bound". "By Any Means Necessary" rounded out a bout of reality-grounded fare before they hit upon my favorite song of the night, the fantastical tale of "Hector's Hymn".

Joacim asked the crowd how many people present had never seen Hammerfall before and the number of hands that went up was way over half of the massive crowd and gauging from how everyone was enjoying the show, I would say that Hammerfall made a huge number of new fans this evening.

All of the existing Hammerfall fans that were present sang along with "Last Man Standing" at the top of their lungs. Joacim proceeded the next song by giving everyone a prep talk saying, "When I say Hammer you say?" "Fall!" the entire audience responded. Everyone in the place sang along to the chorus for "Let the Hammer Fall", whether they were long-time fans of Hammerfall or just introduced.

Keeping the hammer motif going they did one of their powerfully uplifting anthems that help define power metal as a genre with "Hammer High" before hitting their latest hit single "(We Make) Sweden Rock".

Joacim said they had come to the end of their set but they had one last mission before they go... to set our "Hearts on Fire".

The massive crowd responded with unbridled enthusiasm as the band took their bows and exited the stage. It was a great performance that cemented their legacy in hundreds of new minds. They met people out by their merch table after the show and people lined up in a massive cue to meet the heavy metal heros.  

I personally really enjoyed seeing them in a different venue than the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood (where I have seen them the last three times they have played), but I have to say, there is nothing like an intimate show and a head-lining set.

I know they have to pick and choose for a set list, but the title track from the "Dominion" album is easily on the top of my Hammerfall favorite songs of all time,and I wish they would have done it here tonight. Luckily I saw them do it a month before so that will have to suffice for now, but I am looking forward to their next time through already.

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