HammerFall

At a time when the world of heavy rock was lost in blasts of grinding, claustrophobic fog, Swedish favourites Hammerfall championed the soaring, melodic theatre of the original metal idols, growing from a cult novelty in the 1990s to become one of the Europe's most enduring and influential power metal groups. Guitarist Oscar Dronjak originally made his start with extreme thrashers Ceremonial Oath, but after two albums of guttural Scandinavian metal, he began bringing friends from Gothenburg's music community together in 1993 to create a more symphonic sound that celebrated the metal titans of the 1970s and '80s. The wailing, gothic majesty of old school heavy metal had become deeply derided at the time, but Dronjak and frontman Joacim Cans drew on the fantasy themes of Rainbow and the epic, squealing glory of Iron Maiden and made HammerFall a household name on the hard rock circuit for decades. They were also influenced by German bands such as Helloween and Accept, and their early albums 'Glory to the Brave' in 1997 and 'Legacy of Kings' in '98 were full of high pitch, emotional anthems and lightning fast, unbridled riffs. After touring with Dio and releasing fourth album 'Crimson Thunder', they were forced into hiatus when Dronjak broke his arm in a motorcycle accident in 2002, but they were in a defiant and grandiose mood when they made a comeback three years later with 'Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken'. Longtime guitarist Stefan Elmgren left the band to become an airline pilot after covers record 'Masterpieces' in 2008, but later albums '(R)evolution' in 2014 and 'Born to Last' cemented their reputation as a power metal colossus and they remained a hugely popular live force.

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