Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Book review: Legenden Om HammerFall
I have read several music biographies in my day, but I think this is the first one I have encountered where there are no professional authors involved. Oscar Dronjak is not only one of the guitarist of the Swedish heavy metal band HammerFall, he is the founder of this band, which makes it optimal that he does the story telling of HammerFall's history. And it also comes at an optimal time since this book was released last fall, in the middle of HammerFall's break from music.
"Legenden Om HammerFall" takes up the whole story of not only HammerFall, but also of how Oscar grew up in the outskirts of Gothenburg with a Serbian heritage, how he discovered metal and of his first band, Ceremonial Oath. Besides from his own memories and own experiences, Oscar has also interviewed current and past band members and other folks that has had some sort of important impact of HammerFall's career (band managers, press and other musicians, such as Tobias Sammet from Edguy) so that we could see the same stories from different eyes.
There are a lot of crazy stories in this book about the lifestyle the band lived both on tour and in the studio. Sure, HammerFall is no Mötley Crüe, but it seems like the band have had some crazy times, especially the tales of the drummer Anders Johansson and his "you can destroy anything as long as you sweep away the evidence" motto is some of the most fun parts of the book. It also documents some things HammerFall did outside of the "normal" metal life, like their appearances in the famous Swedish game show "Fångarna På Fortet" (the Swedish version of "Fort Boyard", a game show where teams try to gather keys and clues in a old fort outside of France) or when they did music videos for both the Swedish women curling team and the Swedish athletic team. However, I find it odd that Oscar did not mention when they appeared in a Swedish children's program and showed their video to "Natural High" in it. Maybe because he did not want to discuss over the controversy that came with the appearance or he just simply forgot about it.
Oscar does a good job in telling all of the stories and mediate the emotions pretty well, but the book is very linear in its approach. It is mostly going like now they are on tour, and now they are in the studio, and oh, they are on tour again, and so on. I also find Oscar repeating himself a couple of times, which also gets kind of annoying, but I guess it is a good thing if you don't read the book that often and you have a bad memory. So I would not have mind if Oscar had some help from a real author that would give him tips on capturing the reader, but on the other side, everything more or less comes out in this book still, so Oscar did do a nice job writing it.
Besides from the stories, we also get several pages of different pictures that either document the band's career or Oscar in his early years. We also get a complete documentation of all of HammerFall's band members, line-ups and every concert and tour they have ever done. Some pretty nice extra information for the hardcore fans.
Right now it seems like there will not be any translated versions of this book in the future, which is a shame for the band's fans outside of Sweden. It is definitely an interesting 500 pages long book that thoroughly documents the band's journey from being a band that played music everyone thought was outdated to one of the biggest Swedish acts today. A good warm up before the long awaited comeback album "(r)Evolution" that will be released at the end of this month.