without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
HammerFall has a very particular strength. While the band's song writing might be predictable and their musical qualities only of an average quality if compared to several genre colleagues, the band is able to write inredibly catchy songs that won't get out of your minds once you've heard them and you still can easily sing along to these tracks after consuming a case of beer. HammerFall may craft addicting party music, yet they put a healthy dose of emotions and honesty in the execution of their material. HammerFall could play a different kind of music as they have by now proven by releasing "Infected" five years after this effort but it wouldn't sound like the Swedish quintet. HammerFall may sound limited but they do what they do best and this simple attitude is actually highly efficient. "Threshold" perfectly resumes all of HammerFall's strengths and weaknesses in one album. Fans are going to love this release and admire its melodies, lyrics and joy while those who depise the band will claim that this record is too soft, too slow and too stereotyped. I believe this is one of their better records.
One of the band's strengths is to write epic half ballads with great guitar melodies and passionate vocals. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" might be an unspectacular mid-tempo track with a rather ordinary rhythm section from an objective point of view but the heart-breaking guitar solo in the middle part, the passionate and variable vocals and the glorious choirs in the heroic chorus make up for the lack of innovation. Emotions are more important for me than technical abilities in this genre and that's why this track is my favourite on the album. "Rebel Inside" hits a similar vein and is solely carried by engaged melodic vocals and beautiful guitar harmonies. Despite the plodding verses, the chorus erupts as a powerful statement about rebellion which is an important main theme in metal music.
There aren't any really fast and fierce tracks of a more traditional style of European power metal on the album but a couple of short and engaging mid-tempo power metal songs with heavier riffs and more powerful and less strained vocals that should please to genre fans. These tracks are short and to the point without any unnecessary distractions. One of the best examples is the epic single "The Fire Burns Forever" which was recorded for the European Athletic Championship. The track fits this topic from an atmospheric and lyrical point of view. "Howlin' with the Pac'" mixes epic sounds with a few meaner guitar melodies and a chorus where manly gang shouts meet almost androgynous high pitched vocals. It's a perfect song for groups of young metal heads as the lyrics deal with topics such as belonging, freedom and identity.
In the second half of the record, HammerFall shifts away from its balanced mixture of epic half ballads and short rebellious mid-tempo tracks and introduces a couple of longer songs based on atmospheric and slightly progressive instrumental sections and more serious lyrical topics. The majestic and almost sacral keyboard sounds introduce the enjoyable mid-tempo epic "Carved in Stone". "Titan" mixes desperate and powerful tones and features heavy metal riffs taken straight from the eighties with melodic choirs that could come from a rock band from the seventies. The song almost sounds like a mixture of Loudness and Queen. The most intriguing tune is the powerful up-tempo track "Genocide" that probably deals with the downfall of the heavy metal genre and in general with the fact that you should always hold on to your dreams no matter what. The mixture of longing and melancholic vocal lines and powerful riffs and solos on the other is a symbol for the resurrection of a weakened scene for me. Some of the heavier bands and their fans might ridicule a band like HammerFall but as a matter of fact, the Swedish quintet stands for the pillars of freedom, identification and otherness which are some of the genre's most important values like almost no other band. HammerFall manages to deal with these topics without sounding pretentious, didactic or arrogant. This is the main reason why this band still deserves a healthy dose of attention and respect no matter if the band concurs with your own musical tastes.
In the end, this one of HammerFall's better releases. This is largely due to the quite balanced mixture of short and heavy power metal tracks, emotionally crafted melancholic half-ballads and atmospheric epics with lyrical depth. The guitar solos on the record are spot on and especially the energizing, honest and passionate vocal performance is the best in Joacim Cans' career so far in my humble opinion. "Threshold" is an album that should please to most fans of the band and it's also my recommendation if you wanted to get to know this band and didn't know where to start discovering them. There might be better HammerFall albums but this release stands for both past and contemporary HammerFall and represents the spirit and values of this band like no other release. Get together with a few friends on a Friday night, get something to drink, crank up the volume, play this record and have a great time!
I swore off Sweden’s Hammerfall as artistically bereft several years ago after the underwhelming Chapter V album graced my ears with but an excellent track and a half from a CD that contained ten of ‘em. My intention to stick to this boycott was fairly serious, and yet my reconsideration of their debut has led me to pick up where I left off with this tragically uncreative band, their then-new sixth album Threshold. Sure enough, as those familiar with the band’s run of albums might have predicted, I was not surprised to find the band right where I left them: defiant in the face of any kind of evolution and with nary a new trick up their ragged sleeves
Since most readers will be loosely familiar with Hammerfall’s stock sound, let’s do this pros and cons style. So as for those pros, this is the first Hammerfall album to not include a single shitty ballad. Believe that? Occasionally acoustic passages will appear for dramatic purposes, but they always lead into actual songs with actual riffs. This is a great idea for a metal album if you ask me, funny they rarely thought of this before. Cans’ vocal approach has become increasingly diverse over the years, adding variety to his otherwise whiffle-ball approach to metal singing and the lead guitars are also really cool, as they have been on most of the band’s albums. One could also argue that this is Hammerfall’s heaviest album, as there’s a definite aggressive undertone to the new guitar sound and general production/performance. That’s more than I expected to acknowledge about these guys going in.
However, the cons have it, as this is fundamentally the same ol’ Hammerfall we’ve heard several times before. It takes after the dismal Crimson Thunder with its lack of quick songs and sterile rhythm sound and you’ll only be a few songs in before you start getting terribly bored with the whole production. Hey, I know they like to write sing-a-long original recipe heavy metal anthems, and I’m just peachy with that. But you can’t make every song the big crowd participation favorite; they’re there to hear you play, not to carry your weak writing. Surprisingly, these backup vocals have gotten much worse, the medieval shouting now cheesier than it’s ever been. “The Fire Burns Forever” is a prime example of this lyrical handicap: the central mob chant is the hilariously asinine “Fire! Burns!” A friend of mine wrote a line like this back in tenth grade, and he was parodying emocore bands of all things. “Howlin’ with the Pack” is an equally embarrassing example, and it’s not the last. Though Threshold is perhaps the most consistent of all Hammerfall releases to date, there’s a lamentable shortage of great tune-age. There’s no “Secrets,” no “Hammerfall,” no “Way of the Warrior” to really stick out and guilt you into picking up the whole album. Just eleven more tracks of overdramatic, middle-of-the-road, mid-to-slow paced heavy muddle, with the cheery, triumphant "Carved in Stone" being the closest to any sort of a highlight.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to whether or not you need a new dose of Hammerfall material to sate your appetite. In that sense, it’s not so horrendously awful or dramatically different to ruin your meal, and there are certainly worse groups out there you could be blowing your money on, Edguy and Kamelot most immediately come to mind. But I certainly don’t need to listen to this ever again, and I imagine there’s quite a few out there that don’t need to listen to it in the first place. As long as riff recycling and tired fantasy clichés continue to sell, these guys will keep riding on that gravy train to retirement. Here’s betting the next chapter is just like the last six.
After Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, the hammer continued to strike, and never to fall. This is another studio album made of stainless steel of the highest quality. Unfortunately this is the last studio album with guitar god Stefan Elmgren and excellent bass guitarist Magnus Rosén. Stefan's teamwork with Oscar Dronjak resulted this storm of riffs, lead guitars and guitar solos. Magnus again remained in shades, because of killer work other band members did. In bands like HammerFall, bass guitar players are always dwelling in shades, while drummers, vocalists and guitarists shine in the brightest light. Whole studio album is full of mind-blowing songs, starting from Threshold to Titan, done with thunderous Anders Johansson's drum work, blazing guitar riffs, orgasmic guitar solos and lead guitars, manly soaring vocals and excellent lyrics. But not all of them are that impressive after the very first listen. Some of them had to grow on me, for shorter or longer time period, but the magic of this studio album is fully revealed to me.
Opener is mind-blowing, fast, blazing, furious, heavy, killer sing-along song with mysterious intro - Threshold. At that point you can conclude that this album will continue that way, maybe not every single song, but most of them. Natural High, Howlin' With The 'Pac, Shadow Empire and Genocide continue this killing spree. All of them have fast tempo, mix of classic (specially Howlin' With The 'Pac) and blazing riffs (specially Natural High), technical, fast and creative sweep 'n' shred guitar solos (specially Genocide, with that orgasmic opener solo which repeats again in the middle of the song, with even more shredding) which have slower parts with more feel, soaring manly vocals, catchy refrains, well-written lyrics and hammer-pounding drums. These are the most memorable furious songs from this album. There are other much slower and yet so powerful songs. One of them is Rebel Inside. Yeah, it's slow, but it can't be classified as ballad, nor power ballad. This is powerful song for sure, although it has slow tempo, clean guitar parts, vocals play the main role, lyrics are about HammerFall and their heavy metal beliefs, but still, tempo gets a bit faster between intro, refrains and clean guitar parts. These hammer-pounding drums, and blazing riffs prevent it from being power ballad. Guitar solo has balance of passion and power... such amazing work Stefan did here.
There's also fast instrumental Reign Of The Hammer, full of crunchy riffs, orgasmic lead guitar work and hot licks, not soulless shredding like famous overrated guitarists do (Malmsteen, Batio, Broderick...). It took me time to digest The Fire Burns Forever. Although they made music video for it, I thought it didn't deserve to be representative song for this album. I still do, but my opinion about the song in general has changed a bit. I thought it was just very good one, but with time I realized that mix of fast and enjoyable tempo, soaring vocals, catchy refrains, excellent lyrics with deep meaning, powerful and blazing riffs, and orgasmic guitar solo makes this song excellent. Also, it took me time to digest extremely heavy slower song Titan. Those motherfucking heavy riffs were too much for me, and the song as a whole is really weird... that makes it so unique. Soaring vocals, powerful chorus, incredible guitar solo... awesome.
Dark Wings, Dark Words is very unusual song for HammerFall. They never made such unique power ballad with dark feel. The whole song is so strong, passionate and powerful, from vocals, guitars to drums. Epic, anthem-like Carved In Stone, besides Dark Wings, Dark Words is song to which I never paid enough attention. This one has long epic orchestral intro, and Joacim's attempted to show his higher singing register, but it's not impressive that much, because his voice lacks power while hitting higher notes. That part is almost at the end of the song, other sung parts are excellent. Anyway, I like it when some songs enter my ear after some time, these two are the perfect example. That makes the studio album much more impressive.
Good sides of this release:
Everything about it. This release has lots of fast and furious songs, slow powerful ones, one passionate power ballad and kick-ass instrumental song. Vocals, guitars, drums, guitar solos, song structures, lyrics... everything is outstanding. A perfect masterpiece, and a must have for every metalhead.
Bad sides of this release:
There's nothing I would change about this one. This one couldn't have been improved, 'cause it is perfect.
Every motherfucking song.
Sweden’s Hammerfall are back once again with their 6th CD entitled ‘Threshold’. Although the band has continued its trend to lean towards the sound from their past 2 CD’s, ‘Chapter V’ and ‘Crimson thunder’, there are elements in their sound on ‘Threshold’ which brings you back to their first 2 CD’s ‘Glory to the brave’ and ‘Legacy of kings’. It seems Hammerfall are trying to appeal to the fans of their original sound with ‘Threshold’, and these fans will take notice this time around.
‘Threshold’ sees the more frequent use of the fast double-bass pummeling that was evident on Hammerfall’s earliest CDs, and the riffs, melodies and overall cheesiness are somewhat toned down, but more straightforward than on their previous 2 CDs. Hammerfall also uses harpsichord-sounding keyboards for the first time in many of their songs on ‘Threshold’, particularly at the beginning of the tracks. Overall, the sound adds a cool element.
As for the songwriting, it is exactly what you expect from Hammerfall. Killer solos, soaring vocals, and very catchy choruses. In ‘Threshold’, Hammerfall have greatly enhanced their already cool chorus’ by using the whole band and then some to sing the chorus’. This may take some time to get used to and listeners will either love it or it will annoy them, as Hammerfall does take this element a little over the top.
The songs are a nice mix of fast catchy tracks, to slower mid-paced tracks with heavy crunchy guitars and strong pounding drumming. The excellent opening song, which is also the title track, pretty much sets the pace of the CD and what to expect from it. Hammerfall have also tried to strip back the ‘happy metal’ sound from their newer CD’s and bring in a more traditional sound with a darker tone (an example of a ‘happy metal’ band would be Freedom Call). Hammerfall do break out the ‘happy’ vibe in a few songs on ‘Threshold’, but they do it very well.
Some of the standout tracks include “Rebel inside”, which is a slow to mid-paced thundering track with crunchy riffs and power drumming. The song is a great change of pace from the traditional Hammerfall tracks. “Natural high” is a great fast melodic track with catchy riffs and excellent drumming, with a twin guitar solo blast to boot.
“Howlin’ with the pac” is, in my opinion, the best song on the CD. It’s a straight out slab of power metal with no gimmicks and has an 80s feel to it. The chorus is also very catchy. “Carved in stone” is an interesting track, as it doesn’t have your typical Hammerfall feel to it. It has a dark and eerie beginning before the song kicks in around the 1:40 mark. The chorus in this track is catchy as hell, but also very ‘happy’.
The final of the standout tracks is the CD closer, ‘Titan’. It has a ripping awesome opening riff, which continues throughout the entire track and immediately makes your head bang with the beat. It’s a well constructed mid-paced galloper with again, another catchy chorus and it’s the best way for Hammerfall to end the CD.
One thing I have noticed with ‘Threshold’, that it does take a few full spins to fully appreciate and fully get into, whereas in previous CDs it didn’t take very long to straight away love the CD. Overall, I very much like these new elements Hammerfall have brought into their sound, which has brought back some of the feel from their great first 2 CDs. The main thing running through ‘Threshold’ is consistency. It isn’t the band’s best CD, but it is very far from their worst.
Originally written for www.metalcdratings.com
Hammerfall holds a special place amongst the early pioneers of the power metal revolution that kicked off in the mid to late 90s. Their first 2 albums in particular were not so much staples of originality, as they were merely updated versions of a style that reigned supreme a little less than a decade before, but amazing examples of how great the style can be if approached with the right attitude. Power metal has always worked best when unapologetically embracing all of the clichés musically, yet taking care not to get overly comical in the lyrical department. With perhaps the exception of “Chapter V”, which got a little bit carried away (to the point of being Edguy-like); they’ve been relatively consistent up until now.
“Threshold” has been heralded as a return to form by many, but there seems to be a good deal of confusion as to which form they have returned to. There is nothing on here that really captures the rugged and rough-edged spirit of “Glory of the Brave”, nor the grandiose majesty of “Legacy of Kings”, both of which are commonly viewed as the band’s two greatest efforts. There is a good deal of commonality with the band’s third offering “Renegade”, which many mark as the beginning of a decline from their original sound into a slicker, well-produced, and commercial sound. I personally disagree that the band lost a large amount of their spirit with this rather slight changeover, but it is obvious that noticeable differences can be observed, particularly after “Renegade”.
Right at the onset of the opening title track, a noticeable increase in aggression can be observed, as a crunching main riff is superimposed over an up tempo shuffle beat. Aside from a rather brilliantly placed quiet section befitting modern Iron Maiden, there is nothing but ballsy metal from start to finish. The album’s 2 singles “The Fire Burns Forever” and “Natural High” offer the same brand of hard edged riffing complemented with a balance of catching back up vocal chants and Joacim Cans belting out his best Halford-inspired wails. If nothing else, it can be convincingly argued that Hammerfall has at least abandoned the cheesy, lighthearted, arena anthem sound that typified their singles on the last two offerings.
The most unique aspect of this release is the lack of any obligatory ballads or atmospheric interludes, as one or the other was always present on their early releases. The closest we get to either of these are the light intros to “Rebel Inside” and “Carved in Stone”, both of which have more in common with the classic sing along anthem “Templars of Steel” off the Renegade album than any power ballad or interlude offered up on previous albums. There is an instrumental titled “Reign of the Hammer”, which is heavily similar to “Raise the Hammer”, another commonality with Hammerfall’s widely criticized but still mostly praised 3rd opus.
One aspect of this album that really pushes it up in the Hammerfall catalog standing is Stefan Elmgren’s lead guitar performance, which sadly is his last offering with this band. He has had a unique ability to both play a really agitated shred solo and also put in a nice charming little melody to stick to the cerebrum. Every solo combines this duality quite well, but his work on the title track in particular expresses it the clearest. Stefan even finds time to sneak in a nice little homage to Malmsteen’s “Trilogy Suite” at the beginning of “Genocide”, a song that probably would not have been conceived with only Oscar Dronjak manning the 6 string.
This is a definite step back up towards the pinnacle that Hammerfall enjoyed before all of the copycats started coming out in 2002. Opinions vary on whether “Renegade” can really be counted as one of Hammerfall’s greatest achievements, but personally I’d argue it’s up there close to the first 2, and this one is not far behind it. If you were dissatisfied with “Crimson Thunder” and “Chapter V”, this one will ease the pain. The band never really fell all that far in my eyes, but “Threshold” is definitely something that I can be proud of owning, and holds a slot pretty high amongst the top power metal albums of 2006.
Hammerfall is definitely one of metal's "popcorn bands". You'd never want to see their songs featured on any kind of best-of compilation, but if you listen to them with the right mentality you can extract a lot of enjoyment from their simplistic, mid-paced power metal. I heard Legacy of Kings and liked it, but the band's entire discography since then has kind of blurred together in my mind. The band is very inconsistent, and it seems they perversely put the most effort into promoting their crappiest songs (I hate "Heeding the Call" but love "Stronger than All", etc).
The sad reality about this band is for every awesome song they write, there are about two or three long-winded, boring-ass songs that strike no chord with the listener except perhaps the urge to yawn. This not-so-proud tradition is carried on with the full-length-album-that-should-have-been-an-EP Threshold, which contains 20 minutes of ass-kicking and 30 minutes of disposable filler.
If it wasn't for "Natural High" you could skip the first half of the album completely. "Threshold" is decent but terribly uninspired, "The Fire Burns Forever" sucks horribly, and the less said about the three ballads on the album, "Dark Wings, Dark Words", "Rebel Inside", and "Carved in Stone", the better. You think DragonForce writes shit ballads? They haven't got anything on Hammerfall.
But keep listening, because once you're past the retarded Helloween ripoff "Howlin' with the 'Pac" (what's with the title? Are they trying to appeal to rap audiences?) the CD does improve and in fact becomes a very palatable power metal album. "Shadow Empire" has awesome stomach-slamming riffs and a solo that is sheer genius. "Reign of the Hammer" is a nice little instrumental that sounds rather like Master of Puppets-era Metallica. "Genocide" is the fastest, heaviest song on the CD, and boy is it a cooker! The album closes with the majestic, pounding "Titan", where Joacim Cans finally gets enough leash to show off his impressive vocal range (for much of the album he's singing in falsetto).
It goes without saying the music is completely unoriginal and derivative. This band should cut Helloween and Stratovarius a cheque for every album they sell. But you could argue that the familiarity in the music is Hammerfall's trademark. They never set out to be experimental and progressive. They set out to play catchy stadium-filling orchestra-drenched power metal. This is a band that will never pull a St Anger on us.
Favorite songs: "Shadow Empire", "Genocide", "Titan"
I've never really liked Hammerfall. Sure, they had one or two songs I got a kick out of, and they were never terrible, but the majority of their stuff just bored me out of my right mind, and I long since dismissed them as generic and pretty dull. They had a boring guitar tone, fairly dull riffs, and a vocalist I absolutely couldn't stand. I downloaded this one just out of curiosity, and I figured it would at least be good for passing the time. I didn't expect, though, to find a rejuvenated Hammerfall, with a strong, crunchy guitar tone, and a Joacim Cans that didn't sound like a total pussy, but rather exploded with soaring heavy metal attitude and power. He was never a bad vocalist, but rather the production on his voice was apparently just lacking.
Now, this still isn't anything to get excited over if you really hate this band with a passion, because they really haven't changed their sound at all. This is just a refinement of their style, with far better production then they've ever had in the past. It makes a world of difference to me, who's main issue with the band was how weak they sounded, and not the songs themselves. Hammerfall are still their old cheesy, overblown, childish selves, and maybe the more modest or conservative metalhead will be embarassed by this kind of thing, or bored by it, but I have no such pretensions---the cheesiness of the whole package is just icing on the proverbial cake here. Dragons, hammers, flaming templars, this has it all, and I love it.
Like every Hammerfall album, this one's got it's fair share of fillers. The title track, "Rebel Inside", and "Shadow Empire" are rather trite and dull, dragging on for too long and generally boring me. Not terrible, just not the pinnacle of the band's abilities. They'd be much better if they were compacted into 3 minute songs instead of 5 minute ones. "Howlin With the 'Pac" is a standard Hammerfall song, but not as good as usual, also rather bland. None of them are bad, but they're skippable and not really worth your time when there are better songs to be found here.
And what songs they are! "The Fire Burns Forever" is a very typical Hammerfall song, except on crack, as this song is about twice as energetic and powerful as they usually manage. The chorus is generic, but Cans' screams are just so over the top, powerful, and cheesy that I can't help but love it. This one's a great way to get people into the band. "Natural High" continues the burst of ecstasy with another soaring, powerful chorus and speedy, traditional-flavoured riffs, just more of the same goodness we've come to expect from them. "Dark Wings, Dark Words" is probably the best song they've written in years, an absolutely fantastic melancholy ballad. The lyrics are pretty damn cool, better than what I'm used to reading from them, and there is a surprising lack of childish cheesiness that really ups the ante here. Great fucking song. "Genocide" and "Titan" are the closers here, with the former being an upbeat power metal rocker that's not the best they can do, but still fun anyway. "Titan" is much better, with a killer chorus and a nice slower part near the end, giving off a rather epic vibe.
Overall, this album is quite good for Hammerfall standards, and there are definetly some strong tunes here when I'm in the mood for Hammerfall. This album may be generic and cheesy, so it's not for everyone, but I can safely recommend it to any Hammerfall fan or power metal fan in general.
Hammerfall has been a powerful heavy/power metal band for the last few years. There newest effort Threshold is pretty good. It has the same heavy/power formula that the band is known for. It definitely has more heavy metal in it than power. This album is above average but it has a few flaws.
This album has a lot of good qualities. I think the best part of this album is the catchy songs. Most of the songs have epic chorus's that are catchy and memorable. Songs like "Shadow Empire" and "Threshold" are great examples of this. You’ll find yourself singing along to these within a few listens.
The riff work on this album is solid. It isn’t anything special, but it is decent. They usually have about 4-5 riffs per song, usually 2-3 of these are winners. There are some killer riffs every once in awhile. Listen to the opening riff set on "Reign of the Hammer" and you will see what I mean. The soloing on this album is really good as always. They have about one per song, and usually it is quite good. I really like the one in "The Fire Burns Forever". The vocals are pretty much standard power metal vocals. Very high pitched and over done, they work well on this album.
However this album does have a few pretty big flaws. The worst tracks on here are of course the ballads. Oh the ballads. These are bad, really bad. They are cheesy uninspired pieces of shit. "Rebel Inside" is a terrible song. It is boring, tedious, stupid, and above all really overdone. Skip every ballad on this album. The only other flaw on this is that towards the end of the album it starts to become sort of repetitive. Some of the songs sound a little too alike. Besides these flaws it is an enjoyable album.
The best song on this album is "Genocide". It has some good riffs in it and it has an excellent chorus. It is a very catchy song that really kicks ass. It also has an insane soloing section.
There are some bands that I, Mikesn, while probably never enjoy to their fullest extent. Outside their breakthrough album Cowboys from Hell, I have an extreme dislike of Pantera. I don't know why, I've just never been able to get into them. Another band I rather dislike is Dream Theater. Metropolis Pt 2 Scenes from a Memory is a fine album, yet it's not something I find myself enjoying all that much. Aside from that album, I have a hard time listening to the band at all. Finally, there's Hammerfall. Despite them being universally recognized as powerhouses of the power metal genre by fans and critics alike, they're pretty high up on my *** list. In releases like Crimson Thunder and Chapter 5: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken, they've proven to be nothing more than an average, generic power metal band. Sorry, but that isn't the way I like my metal. So when I heard that Hammerfall was working on a new record, Threshold, my expectations for the album were astronomically low. But when I heard the album, I was pleasantly surprised. Never before had the Swedish quintet ever sounded so good.
Right from the start of the albums opener, it is evident that the band has gotten better. The opening riff of the album's first track, Threshold, is much heavier and stronger than anything the band has done in their past few releases. Only, this time the band is able to build on this early momentum. The title track is a very solid showing of Hammerfall's true potential, as it combines the power and strength or the genre, and mixes it with the melodic prowess that fans of power metal have come to love throughout the last 20 years. Throughout the album, Hammerfall replicates the energy of the opener through songs like Natural High and The Fire Burns Forever. Hammerfall's rise to decency has a lot to do with guitarists Oscar Drunjak and Stefan Elmgren. No longer content with playing simple, boring riffs and melodies, the pair has an outstanding outing on Threshold. Their playing is tasteful and exciting, and at can get very interesting at times. With Oscar and Stefan leading the way, it seems as though the band has had a fire lit under them. I must say, Hammerfall write some pretty good material when they're inspired. Generic, but still pretty good.
However, Threshold is definitely not a perfect record. Despite being a vast improvement, Hammerfall still falls back on the vices that plagued their earlier releases. Threshold's ballads are particularly bad, and they hurt the overall score of the album immensely. Some things never chance unfortunately, and these Swedes have never been good at writing ballads, and continue this bad streak here. As cheesy as songs like Howlin' with the 'Pac and Shadow Empire are, the cheese factor in songs like Carved in Stone and Rebel Inside is off the charts. A large reason for this lies in the fact that instead of being lead by the guitarists, vocalist Joacim Cans takes charge. He's improved slightly, but he does not develop as a singer nearly as much as his band mates improve in their own roles. Cans' voice can get extremely cringe worthy, especially in the ballads. This can get exceedingly irritating, and can ruin a track. Luckily, Joacim has mercy on his listeners, and this does not happen as often as it does on say, Crimson Thunder. Another reason why Threshold's ballads are not really all that interesting is because of the music itself. Hammerfall's greatest strength rests in the hands of their two guitarists. When they cannot dominate the song, as is the case in Rebel Inside or Dark Winds, Dark Words, the music gets very dull, very fast. The material is just significantly weaker that the rest of the album.
Hammerfall has never been a band I really liked. I've always thought they were one of the more generic, over rated power metal bands. And, well, I still do. But I was also pleasantly surprised with their sixth studio effort, Threshold. It's heavier, darker, and stronger than anything the band has done thus far. Tracks like Threshold and The Fire Burns Forever are superbly done written and performed tracks, definitely among the band's greatest tracks. Though there are some weaker tracks, the Swedish quintet seems to be on a mission, and have produced a very honest, inspired album. Threshold may very well be Hammerfall's best record yet, and is worth looking into, even if it is generic.
(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)
Whenever I bought this album, about a week after it came out, I didn’t really think it was going to be that great, for I thought nothing would be able to compare to my then favorite Hammerfall album, Crimson Thunder. After the first listen I was totally shocked by how good it was. I listened to it a couple more times and realized that it was better than Crimson Thunder.
First of all, Joacim Cans’ vocals on the album are incredible. I personally like them here more then they are on any other Hammerfall release. Instead of screaming in a high-pitched voice all the time (Legacy of Kings), it sounds like he is somewhere in between talking and using his high-pitched scream, which adds very much effect into every song on the album.
There aren’t that many guitar solos on this album, and when there are, they’re not as impressive as the Legacy of Kings days, but all of the riffs are completely perfect and they stick in your head for the next day because you keep on remembering how awesome they are.
There also is not much anything special going on inside of the bass and drum department though, but that hasn’t really ever been Hammerfall’s strong suit so, why start now?
The highlights of the album, in my opinion, are Threshold, The Fire Burns Forever, Natural High, Howlin’ With the ‘Pac, Shadow Empire, Carved In Stone, and Genocide. The song Threshold showcases pure epicness, and proves that Hammerfall still knows what they’re doing. The Fire Burns Forever has a really catchy chorus, and keeps you chanting along the whole time you’re listening to it. Natural High is a combination of great guitar riffs, excellent lyrics, and syncopation. Shadow Empire has sweet riffs, with a very intact verse rhythm. The only problem with Carved In Stone is the happy chorus that kind of reminds you of a Beatles song, but the rest of the song kicks. Genocide is equivalent to Hero’s Return, off of Crimson Thunder. It is a very fast, upbeat song, with a sweet chorus, and contains a lot of double kick.
So I know what you’re thinking right now, “This CD’s new, so it’s not going to be good, because they’re last album was their worst one ever!”, Well that’s not the case here, because Threshold is Chapter V multiplied by five, and just the title track on Threshold, is better than every song on Chapter V.
Being a big fan of Hammerfall's first two releases, I must admit I wasn't to happy with their change of style on the Renegade, Crimson Thunder and Chapter V albums. All of a sudden it seemed to me they went chasing the big money instead of focusing on writing cliche songs which are heavy as well as catchy.
Thank God they finally returned to their glorious sound from the starting days. Threshold sounds rebellious and fast again. Although containing a few downpoints (Rebel Inside is utter useless), the hightlights are numerous. First of all: the titel track is THE best Hammerfall track ever written. It has a great catchy chorus, some excellent vocal work (Joacim Cans' voice has improved a lot!) and the speed I was missing on the previous releases. Natural High is the best single choice with all the traditional Hammerfall ingredients while Titan and Genocide sound a lot heavier than most of their previous songs.
The Fire Burns Forever, Rebel Inside and Howlin' with the 'Pac aren't that great, but besides Rebel Inside (which sounds like a really bad Accept anthem) not that bad. I guess every Hammerfall album needs to have some uninteresting fillers to point out the really good tracks. Natural High, Shadow Empire and Carved In Stone are just cool headbang-along songs, but the ballad Dark Wings, Dark Words must be one of the best non-gay ballads the band ever wrote. Hell, it doesn't even sound like a love song because of the dark epic mood and the wonderful deep choirs.
As I mentioned before Cans really sounds a lot better than he used to sound. I seriously can't understand the fact that people are calling him weak on this album; believe me: he really doesn't sound weak in any way. The rest of the band plays solid as ever with the only exception the whole album sounds a lot more spontanious like the way Hammerfall once sounded back in 1997. Stefan's soloing might be a little conservative, but I still think that's one of Hammerfall's stronger point. Sometimes it's better to stick to your guns, than to change a winning team.
I truly recommand this album to any Hammerfall fan in general, especially the ones who, like myself, praise the first two releases.