Hammer King - King Is RisingThis is my twentieth review for AMG. In honor of such a fine achievement, the nobility at AMG World Headquarters have bestowed upon me a fine destrier, so I can prance through the office valiantly proclaiming my fealty. Well, not really, but I was given the newest output from power-metal wannabes Hammer King, King is Rising. Which, if played loud enough, is practically the same thing. The band’s bio is utterly confusing. Apparently the band members were “hand-picked by thy majesty himself.” Who is that? The singer, Titan Fox, claims to have sung for Ross the Boss, but I find no record of such on the InterGoogle. Maybe he had a different name back then. And they apparently just came off a career-spanning hiatus, even though their first album was released a year and a half ago. Confusion reigns in the land of the Hammer King!

What’s not confusing is Hammer King’s music. These guys play the trvest of heavy metal, which today we call power metal. They write songs about kings and hammers. In fact, the words “Hammer” and “King” appear in their song titles seven times, and on their first album, Kingdom of the Hammer King, those words appear eight times. This is a very focused band! This single-mindedness gets off to an anthemic start with “King is Rising,” an uplifting and noble ditty about a king who is rising, complete with a rowdy dual-guitar melody and a big chorus. The song segues directly into “Last Hellriders,” which features a driving, relentless beat. Through two songs we have seen evidence of cheesy quality. Fox’s voice is reminiscent of Marc Storace (that’s Krokus for you young pups) and fits the music quite well. His high wails verge on nails-on-chalkboard awkwardness, but he doesn’t go for it often enough to constantly annoy.

Not every song is a proud, inspiring gallop through the gorse, though, and that’s where Hammer King lose their focus. “Warrior’s Reign” is a middling effort that goes nowhere and, due to Fox’s falsetto attempts, has the worst chorus on the album. “Reichshammer,” although a full-tilt charge, probably doesn’t need to be a song in 2016, and is in too high a key for Fox to succeed. “Viva ‘La King” provides us with the funniest moment on the record, a castanet solo, and closer “Eternal Tower of Woe” aims to be the band’s token epic, but Hammer King is not built to pull off epics and it falls flat for all of its six minutes. No, where Hammer King succeeds is on driving, anthemic gallops, like a heavier HammerFall. Standout tracks like “Last Hellriders” and “Battle Gorse” let the band truly unleash and will have you banging your head and slamming your fist in the air.

Hammer King 2016

What else detracts from the ultimate enjoyment of this trve metal album? The production. The DR6 rating shows through in all its tepid glory, with the sound mashed into a constant, tiring volume. While the guitars bring a lot of bite and the bass sits admirably in the mix, the drum sounds are simply awful. I’ve heard Rubbermaid pails sound better, and when most of an album consists of rollicking Maiden-paced charges, the drums go from annoying to unbearable. The frequencies that have been notched out of the drums don’t help them stand out from the rest of the music, and the vocals and guitars share too much of the same range, resulting in a tiring listen after twelve songs.

Hammer King have a singular focus and know exactly what they want to pull off. The misses add up, though, as does the iffy production, making King is Rising an inconsistent album. At times they succeed, and when they do it is majestic. I may not have been given a fine stallion like I’d hoped, but their anthems had me running between the AMG cubicles banging coconut shells together. Walk proudly, my friends, and carry a big hammer [Put the Banhammer back in my office.Steel Druhm].


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Cruz del Sur
Websites: hammer-king.com | facebook.com/thehammerking
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2016

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  • AngryMetalBird

    wow this must be the worst thing I heard about today! hey, wait….

    • Reese Burns

      Crank Brujera and wait for it all to be over..

      • Kronos

        How may times would you have to listen to Brujeria’s ouvre to make it through four years? In this case, Even I might reach for Swallow the Sun.

  • The guy standing in front in that band photo looks bizarre. Like, a bug.

    • Nag Dammit

      I thought he looked like an un-hooded, fist-pumping (but in a really uncertain way) emperor Palpatine.

      • basenjibrian

        I saw him as driving a windowless white van and offering little girls candy.

    • Bart the Repairman

      And a bug should be smashed with the shovel, right?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You shouldn’t wear corpse paint if you are already starting to look like a corpse.

  • That’s a mighty big hammer.

    • Huck N’ Roll

      These guys are the kings of the hammers!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Normally I would find this amusing or fun but not today. You yanks have chosen a new path and your going to drag the rest of us down it. President jesus fucking Trump fucking Christ… if ever there was a time to be against or claim some relavency now is it. I expect a new rebel headquarters, a new hey day of underground metal to rise up from the garages and seedy bars of Michigan and Utah and be something better. Come on America. It’s time for the second wave of metal.
    Good night and get fucked m/

    • Reese Burns

      Rest in peace, Paris agreement. You could have made the planet great again.

      • Kronos

        Well, bad. as opposed to terrible. This is really what I’m disappointed in – wildlife in America is already under a lot of pressure, esp. with people opposing the Endangered Species Act, and emissions… It’s looking grim for the global environment.

        • Reese Burns

          This was the one issue I hoped people would come together on. It’s the only planet we’ve got.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          It’s mind melting that people act against their own interests in this regard because they would rather hate ‘greenies’ than look at the facts staring them in the face.

    • You’ll be fine. Chaos is fookin’ metal.

      • Hulksteraus

        I am afraid I am going to have to second the sentiment that Carlos stated. A big WTF! Rise up American Metal!!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        That’s the silver cloud I’m looking for!

    • Huck N’ Roll

      Um, I’m Canadian…

      • Hulksteraus

        Get ready to welcome half of the US to your wonderful country I suspect…

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Ha sorry I didn’t mean you…

      • You mean eh!? Fellow Canuck!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Yea, everybody come to Canada. We like warm hugs!

      • The Nerd.

        I don’t want any of them. Last thing our country needs is MORE whiny liberals

        • Hulksteraus

          From outside of the US, neither of the options were very good. More global chaos is not something we need more of. Trump is neither Republican, nor Democrat, he is of and for himself, which is not really a good thing when you live outside of America because it means America is insular and protectionist again.

        • But they have nowhere else to go! The US just became a safe space unfriendly zone.

          • The Nerd.

            No safe spaces in Alberta.

          • Reese Burns

            what they don’t seem to understand is that by leaving, they’re basically handing him a second term.

          • [not a Dr]

            That’s still better than the friend zone.

    • Hulksteraus

      Carlos, cheer up, we have Malcolm Roberts and Pauline Hanson….

      • Thatguy

        Moderates by US standards and at least they are not in charge.

    • The Nerd.

      Give it a rest man. He’s not even in office yet. This is worse than when the right wing said Obama was going to destroy America.

      The only thing I disagree with Mr. Trump is his climate change stance, and I hope some Republican’s can talk sense to him. Otherwise I believe he is the better choice for my country Canada.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        That climate change is a Chinese conspiracy… best to let the world burn… the man is a buffoon and a disaster / failure waiting to happen. Anyway hopefully he’ll inspire some decent rebellious metal like Ronnie Raygun did

        • Thatguy

          This is all sad but true. I am so very sorry for my children.

          • Thatguy

            Oh, and this music is crap.

      • basenjibrian

        Good. I’m sure you won’t mind when he forces GM and Ford to close all of the Ontario auto plants?*
        * Not that I believe he will accomplish anything in his rather…incoherent and rambling mess of a program, but…to think that a Trump is good for any foreign country seems rather shortsighted given that his campaign is largely based on nationalist tropes if not outright racial appeals.

        • The Nerd.

          Anything that pisses off Ontario is fine with me. They like to think of themselves as the Center of the Universe.

          • Iain Gleasure

            Believe it or not, we in Ontario agree. Everyone outside Toronto and Ottawa kinda hates the amount of money they suck up and the arrogance of the people. No, Toronto, St. Catharines and Stratford do not want to pay for your stupid tram cars and no that doesn’t make us racist against the blacks. (You’d think its unrelated but Toronto has a way)

          • The Nerd.

            Exactly. I know there are many decent people in Ontario but Toronto ruins it for the rest of you.

            Blue Jays are good though.

          • Iain Gleasure

            I use the subway to get downtown for school and it was quite fun to see the Go Jays Go stickers come up on their playoff run. The only other time the cars get decorated is Lest We Forget for Remembrance Day.

          • The Nerd.

            In Calgary the buses have the Lest We Forget on the info of the bus.
            I rarely saw anybody wear a poppy during the week leading up to Rememberance Day, and that made me sad.

          • Iain Gleasure

            I was disappointed by that downtown as well. I also missed part of the Remembrance ceremony at Queen’s Park but it meant I missed Wynne’s speech so there was that small positive. If a politician speaks at a Remembrance Ceremony I think they should actually support the troops not just say they do for a day

          • The Nerd.

            Fully agree with you on the Ceremony part.

            Hey we’ll trade you Notl…..on second thought 2 more years of Notley is better than 2 years of Wynne. I sure hope Kenney and Jean get their act together though, it’s time to Unite The Right, in Alberta. How much longer until the next Ontario election?

          • Iain Gleasure

            2 years to the election. Right now Wynne’s at really low ebb, but I don’t trust Toronto’s hordes not to flip back to her in the next 2 years. We’ll see if Brown’s Tories can get a minority, the province is too stupid to give them anything more despite all the liberal mismanagement. Horwath’s NDP are a just a complete mess unfortunately, so no real third option

          • The Nerd.

            In Alberta we have 2 right wing parties. The PC’s had screwed up everything since Ralph Klien left, and the Wildrose split from the PC’s and are the only true Conservative party left.

            But Jason Kenney is trying to win the nomination for the Tories and if he wins he’s going to try to bring the Wildrose and PC’s back together.

            That is the only reason the NDP got into power here, and it was instant regret from many MANY people.

    • basenjibrian

      an awful lot* of metal celebrates behavior and attitudes a bit closer to a Trump rally than this “liberal” stuff**
      * Not all. I know, I know.
      ** Note…I am pretty darn lefty, so….

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Some legitimately angry metal would be good rather than bluster metal…

        • basenjibrian

          Good point!

    • The Unicorn

      6 likes for this trollish comment? This is metal reviewing, not a political venting forum. And before you go say “oh, heres a Yank that voted Trump in” – think again. I just dont piss in my sandbox and make all my friends have to make piss sandcastles. As a “Yank” I find your generalizing and calloused diatribe to be salt in the wound. You think Im happy about this? My kids future is at stake! Good night and get fucked m/ m/

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Except for Vektor, Metal doesn’t exist in a void, and it’s everyone’s future…
        Anyway apologies for pissing in sandpit and rubbing salt etc

        • The Unicorn

          Thanks mate.

    • MelbCro

      Don’t know what its says about a dude that feels the need to vent about politics in a comment section of a metal review site. Really not interested in your attention seeking mate.

      • Thatguy

        Bollocks.

        And it was 1a.m. when he wrote it…

        • MelbCro

          You offering yours mate? Not really interested in that mate. I do enjoy cooking up some cow bollocks though, damn delicious.

          • Thatguy

            We will agree to disagree.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Definitely broke my don’t post after drinking rule…

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Obviously not interested

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Be that a hammer or a dung shovel yon brave warrior hefts?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Dung shovel, I would say.

  • Martin Knap

    How To: Wearing a Trench Coat with Style & Class

  • Westpaceagle

    So I guess we shouldn’t expect a cover of ‘If I had a Hammer’ from these guys…

  • GardensTale

    This is the epitome of meh.

  • Tofu muncher

    I am grinning from ear to ear whilst reading the review, which is a breath of fresh of air considering *oh here we go again*