Review Summary: Renegade is by no means a perfect album. It does, however, exhibit some talent and should be given a chance.
Power metal is one of the most interesting sub genres under the tag of metal. It has grown into one of the biggest genres in the underground; there's a vast amount of bands that fall under the genre and only a few have had any real success. This sub genre of metal also has one of the biggest collections of hate of anything in rock music, which may be a cause of the its lack of success. That being said, however, there are some notable efforts by bands such as Helloween, Angra, and more recently, Hammerfall.
Renegade is Hammerfall's third album, having been released not too long after the turn of the century. It came around quite a while after both power metal's start and the start of the band itself; the band members had plenty of time to form their sound and enough experience to craft an album worth listening to.
Let me start off by saying that Hammerfall, like so many other power metal bands, did not make a strong enough attempt to make this album different from other bands of their genre. The vocals are much like those of some other power metal bands: semi high-pitched and, at times, repetitive. The remaining instruments: lead and rhythm guitars, bass, and drums have no really unique parts. Worst of all, most of the lyrics are cheesy and uninspired - they're really no different than those of most bands.
But what Hammerfall lacks in originality, they make up for in song quality. All of the vocal parts show some effort, never failing to sound decent. The guitar work on every song is well done, each complete with a great guitar solo. Rhythm guitar, bass, and drums don't really shine here, but they don't interfere with the rest of the music.
Templars of Steel introduces the album. It starts off with an epic, slow build up, and after about a minute, all of the instruments. The song is well-written and is one of the standouts of Renegade. Following Templars of Steel, Keep the Flame Burning begins. This second song is nothing of special interest, but is still a worthy effort. Renegade then continues with the title track, a high paced, energetic song and another standout. After another song of no particular greatness, Living in Victory, the ballad of the album commences. Being the only song on Renegade that isn't heavy,Always Will Be helps to maintain song variety. The next three songs - The Way of the Warrior, Destined for Glory, and The Champion - continue the pace of the album well, but aren't anything particularly exciting. Raise the Hammer is one of the best instrumentals I've heard and shows a fiery blaze of guitar talent. It is a lucky break if the vocals are not of interest to the listener. Renegade closes with A Legend Reborn, another somewhat high quality song.
Overall, this is a strong effort by the power metal band Hammerfall. While many may not like this album, this band, or even this genre, Renegade showcases skill in both writing music and playing it. Of course, that won't change the opinion of those who don't like the album, but just think of this as the perspective of a Hammerfall fan.
Decent song variety
Lack of originality
Templars of Steel
Raise the Hammer