Hammerforce – Access Denied
Reviewed by Kylie McInnes
Well, well, well, what do we have here? Power metal with great vocals? Score! It’s a welcome change of pace. My initial impression of St. Petersburg’s (the cold Russian one, not the retirement resort in Florida) Hammerforce was that of a Nemesis Jr., and I mean that in a positive way. This is highly competent and catchy power metal with a heavy use of more techno/dance keyboard sounds than is typical for power metal (lots of boops and beeps and orchestral hits than strings, horns, and atmospheric tones).
Vocalist Dmitri Yanovsky just nails it on this album. He has a great tone and is incredibly clear. He belts out a few good screams, too. Hey, and unlike so many northern European vocalists, his accent isn’t thicker than the permafrost! One point to Hammerforce.
“I Am I” opens the album and sets the tone for the entire 41 minute duration. It’s mostly keyboard-driven, but there are lots of Gamma Ray-influenced guitar riffs underneath with competent solos thrown in for good measure. The drum work is also solid.
The entire album is upbeat, uptempo power metal, with no ballad wussiness for the sake of having a ballad. If there’s anything negative to say about this work, it’s that everything tends to mesh together and leave individual songs resembling one of the Borg Collective, rather than having any single highlight. There are enough feel changes and tempo shifts in each track to keep Access Denied from being the soundtrack to a rave, but this is total Dragonforce syndrome. “Hey, I really like that 5 minute song with the ‘Somewhere Out In Space’ riff set with the keyboard licks and that little slowdown in the bridge!” At least there isn’t a “So far away!” chorus.
That said, this is quite a fun album that would make for a great road trip. Catchy enough for sing-along parts, fast and melodic, but just a tad monotonous (but not in the “boring” way). Sure, all the individual songs are strong enough to stand on their own, but there just isn’t a lot to differentiate between one song and the next.
3.5 // 5