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Hammerfall: Threshold

By this point in heavy metal's evolution, you would think that warrior metal would have faded into the stuff of legend. Yet bands continue to sing about fantasy worlds filled with grand battles and epic imagery. Hammerfall still ranks among the genre's best purveyors of this type of music. The mighty Swedes took their glorious sound to more over-the-top heights than ever on 2005's Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken. Now, a little more than a year later, Hammerfall return with Threshold, arguably the band's most down-to-earth album.

But don't impale yourself with your shiny sword just yet. Threshold is still packed with the kind of metal anthems that make Hammerfall warrior kings ("When Fire Burns Forever," "Howlin' With the 'Pac," "Genocide"). But elsewhere, you can sense vocalist Joacim Cans and his troops subtly going for an earthier vibe, especially on the epic hymn "Dark Wings, Dark Words" and the heavy closer "Titan." That said, no one - not even the ever-influential Judas Priest and Manowar - pounds out meaty power chords like Hammerfall guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Stefan Elmgren. Want proof? Listen to "Rebel Inside" and "Carved in Stone." Anders Johansson realizes that thunderous drumming need not pummel listeners with mindless double-bass repetition, and Charlie Bauerfeind's production, so polished on Chapter V, loses a little of its luster but none of its power.

In fact, Threshold proves that Hammerfall's brotherhood of steel remains as strong as ever and ensures that the band, after six albums and 10 years, isn't ready to stop galloping. Say what you will about the cheesy album covers, stage attire and lyrical themes. But know this: In a world where heavy metal has become overly segmented, the genre needs mighty, melodic and majestic bands like Hammerfall to keep strong the link between metal's present and its storied past.


Track Listing:
1) Threshold
2) The Fire Burns Forever
3) Rebel Inside
4) Natural High
5) Dark Wings, Dark Words
6) Howlin' With the 'Pac
7) Shadow Empire
8) Carved in Stone
9) Reign of the Hammer
10) Genocide
11) Titan

Added: October 18th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Hammerfall Web Site
Hits: 2619
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Hammerfall: Threshold
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-18 17:39:15
My Score:

Following their stellar release Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, Sweden's Hammerfall has returned with Threshold an album that continues their heroic adventures into Metal glory. For their sixth release there is pretty much the same formula that has worked for the band since their inception and while that might seem safe to some readers, others should know that the band has not lost any of their luster by keeping this premise the same. Opener "Threshold" is an anthem-styled rocker which not only brings you into the way this band feels quick, but it will also have you singing with them as you push your fist into the air. Front man Joacim Cans possesses a great set of Metal pipes and he displays the level of his melodic powers on tracks such as "Shadow Empire" and "Genocide"; songs that are among the most standout numbers on the album. The blistering twin axe attack of Oscar Dronjak and Stefan Elmgren provide riffs that are poised to defend the course of Metal honor whenever called upon while Magnus thunders on the bass and Anders keeps the time under control in true Power Metal drummer fashion. Threshold continues the bands theme with more songs about epic battles and sword and sorcery based warriors but it is done with such a majestic overtone and manner that the music does not get stale. For some reason this works well for Hammerfall and their legions of followers, one could cite that since Manowar has also never strayed from the premise that it can work for a long time. Perhaps "Majestic Metal" is another one of those untapped genre labels. "Reign Of The Hammer" finds the band delivering an energetic instrumental piece and shows that they can do such a number to effect as well and even find the space for a ballad like "Dark Wings, Dark Words". I arrived late to the music of Hammerfall, joining the cause with One Crimson Night but the thing I like most about them is the overall level of excitement and purity that their music possesses. So many Metal bands have a dark vibe to them or are super thrashy it is nice to find bands like Hammerfall using the early influences of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the like to carry their own band into the halls of honor. As a result, it becomes fun Metal to be interested in and since it takes you away to far away and mystical places, it continues the magic that music is supposed to unleash in a person. The Metal fire truly does burn forever with Hammerfall. This should be a great album on the concert stage.


Hammerfall: Threshold
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-16 15:25:00
My Score:

Leave it to Sweden's Hammerfall to continue their quest to bring quality classic metal to the masses. This really has been their focus from day one-to show the world that epic, fantasy tinged heavy metal could still be a relavent art form in this day and age. Drawing inspiration from Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Helloween,andManowar, these steadfast Swede's have released a handfull of strong albums that, while sort of over the top and pretentious at times, carries the sword of metal like no other band. Their latest Threshold is a swashbuckling, melodic affair, that delivers the goods like any typical Hammerfall album. Thick, crunchy guitars, the soaring vocals of Joacim Cans, catchy harmonies, and thunderous rhythms. No surprises here, but then again did any of us expect any?

Songs like "Shadow Empire" and "Rebel Inside" relentlessly storm ahead with no shortage of power metal riffage and histrionic vocals, and they have seemed to have found a more mid-paced middle ground here, as on the pounding grind of "Carved in Stone", complete with slower, yet no less heavy, guitar riffs and rhythms. Still, it's the manic speed/power metal numbers that really work here, like the twin guitar fueled gem "Reign of the Hammer", a kick ass instrumental, and the intricate barnburner "Genocide".

Like I said, no real surprises here, but as always this is quality power metal from a band that just churns out one strong album after another. So draw your sword, flash the sign of the horns, and bang your head to the metal sounds of Threshold.



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