All Hail! The Hammer King has returned! That’s right, only a year after the release of their debut, Kingdom of the Hammer King, the band offers us their second full length King Is Rising. Just like it’s predecessor, this album is chock full of hammers and kings to whet your cheesy-lyric appetite. The biggest difference this time out is the feeling running through every track, which takes this album to new heights. There is absolutely no sophomore slump here.
With a band like Hammer King, most people would likely expect each album to sound roughly the same. Although both are similar this album is no carbon copy. There are major improvements in writing, sound and emotion. Let’s start with writing. Yes, it fills your ears with many hammers and kings, but these German power metallers build a more diverse storyline around it. Tracks like “Warrior’s Reign” and “Battalions of War” are great examples. Of course you’re going to have over-the-top songs (“Viva ‘La King”), but that’s to be expected.
The quality of the music has improved as well. Power metal has always been anthemic, but sometimes even the best bands can be lazy. The first album wasn’t lazy, but the anthemic songs seemed a bit forced. Quite a different experience here; songs like the title track and “Battle Gorse” show more strength and might. The production quality has also improved substantially. Finally, and this is important for power metal, the emotion that was severely lacking from Kingdom of the Hammer King has been successfully introduced on King Is Rising. Take a listen to “Kill the Messenger” and you will hear true passion, both vocally and musically.
When it comes to Hammer King, there should be no surprises in their sound. They’re gonna hit you with power metal speed and clichés like, well, a hammer. It’s what made their first album a success. However, they have triumphantly stepped it up a notch on King Is Rising. VIVA ‘LA KING!