Hammerfall - Threshold 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-15-06





Tracklist:

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


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.



SEAN




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