Well, if it isn’t our old friends the Templars of Steel. It’s been a rough few years for Hammerfall, with members leaving and the previous album not being as well received as some of it’s predecessors. Infected is almost a reboot of the band’s sound, and ushers in a heavier and less loin cloth-based sound.

You certainly have to credit a major album the slips in a Simpsons reference of the intro to Patient Zero, which is thankfully not a song about warriors and steel. Indeed, almost all references to the afore mentioned vocal direction are absent, combined with the darker artwork. The opener is obviously about zombies, the overall sound isn’t based on the almost trademark cliché and cheese. It is, however, still power metal to the core but it’s the kind of album you’d almost admit to owning.

The lead single One More Time is a massive disappointment compared to the rest of the album, obviously pandering to the older fans who yearn for a chest beating chorus in the vein of Hearts on Fire. You can’t force lightning to strike, and the natural sound of the album being as dark as it is, Dia De Los Meurtos fits to the more mature tone set by The Outlaw . Having said that, I Refuse is a song built around a giant riff and a two word chorus, so feel free to call me a hypocrite and throw spuds me.  The follow-up, The Enemy Within, continues the hook-ridden madness while Let’s Get It On brings in the Maiden gallops before a more traditional Hammerfall chorus.

The final seven minute track Redemption is slightly disappointing, simply because Hammerfall work best in four to five minute slots of anthemic mayhem and not plodding half-ballad with annoying techno synths.

Infected isn’t a far cry from what has gone before in Hammerfall’s career, but it brings enough different to the table to make it stand out, which is something of a first for the band. A solid album, but fans may take a while to embrace it.