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Interviews : “I’m so damn proud of it” – An interview with Joacim Cans (HammerFall)

By on August 7, 2019

Right now, melodic heavy metal is du jour: DragonForce, Sabaton, Powerwolf, and the evergreen Iron Maiden all prosper and are afforded critical acclaim. Cast your thoughts back to the turn of the millennium: the genre has been stripped back to its bare metal frame and is a genuinely underground phenomenon; scary Scandinavians don capes and corpse paint en masse as black metal reigns supreme, a cast of Roadrunner signed artists adopt a look and presence more like the prevailing urban music trends of the time as they attempt to capture the attention of fans obsessing over Korn and Limp Bizkit, and something like 400,000 attendees swarm upstate New York for the poorly conceived and ultimately tragic Woodstock 99, a music festival that found only a single spot amongst its 50 plus performance slots for a heavy metal band.

Why would anyone think that forging the classic sounds of melodic metal would achieve success in that era?

Joacim Cans is the Swedish vocalist fronting HammerFall, a no-bullshit melodic heavy metal band. Together with comrade Oscar Dronjak on guitar and a cast of first-rate musicians, they have proudly offered listeners a genuine alternative to whatever was happening in the music industry since the mid-90s.

With a new album to promote called Dominion, the singer share’s his thoughts on the band’s journey to date.

“I think what made us, you know, big, is that no one expected an album like Glory to the Brave to be released in 1997,” Cans says.

“That was a period when melodic heavy metal music was almost forgotten. 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.”

That is what heavy metal is all about, marching to the beat of your drum. No band better represents that philosophy than HammerFall has throughout their superb 22-year recording career.

According to Cans, melodic metal’s renaissance was almost killed by the propensity for labels to sign sound-a-likes.

“We opened up a lot of doors back in the late nineties. All of a sudden, every label wanted to have their own HammerFall. I think people are 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, and we are still a band that people are listening to and can count on.”

The new album, Dominion, manages the near-impossible by refining the essence of the paramount elements of HammerFall‘s sound, then updates it to introduce the band to an even broader audience.

“I’m so damn proud of it,” said Cans. “It’s tough to say only a few words about it because it means so much. It’s kind of unbelievable that album number 11 is the one; hopefully, that is maybe the game-changer for HammerFall.”

Dominion is available August 16, 2019, through Napalm Records. Pre-order your copy via Amazon Australia, Nuclear Blast Records and Napalm Records.

The new album Dominion out August 16th via Napalm Records.


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith