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Review: Hanker - Web Of Faith
Web Of Faith

Label: Skyscraper Music
Year released: 2004
Duration: 60:55
Tracks: 12
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: August 31, 2004
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Web Of Faith

Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (24 Votes)

Don't worry, you haven't entered a parallel universe. I, of all people, have given a less than perfect score to a Hanker album. And tomorrow hell will be freezing over. Is it a matter of me having grown more critical with time (age? :)) or is it the remote possibility that I might actually not like something on the album? Well, it's a bit of both actually. :) OK, enough blabbering and on with the review. This is the long-awaited fourth album from these Canadian heavy metallers and in short, it was well worth the wait. They're now finally on a solid label and "Web of Faith" is their first album produced by a metal producer, in a studio with experience in metal recordings. The album was produced by Jean-François Dagenais, guitarist for Montreal-based death metal band Kataklysm. I find overall he did a great job, especially with the guitar sound which is much better than on the previous albums. Things are not so great with the drum sound, however. At times it has this little "clickety" sound that one usually finds mostly on death metal albums. It's not the end of the world, it's not everywhere, but I find that a bit distracting although after several listens I've managed to phase it out when listening to the album. But definitely not a sound I'm used to hearing on a heavy metal album.

I might as well get rid right away of the one other thing that bothers me a bit and it's still drum related (hmmm... I think Luc will hit me the next time I see him. :)) Again, that's only here and there but most importantly during the otherwise excellent song "The Search". During the chorus the use of the drum is... Er.. Well.. Here's my reaction when I first heard it (and still to this day): "What the hell is this?" This little part reminded me immediately of a drum part I bitched about when I reviewed the first Forgotten Tales album. I don't know, that thing just bothers me. There's a bit on the same in "Do Or Die" as well. And there you have it, for an album that lasts over 60 minutes I'm bitching only about a minute or two and now I can switch to fanboy mode.

Even though I still have a thing for "The Dead Ringer" as my favourite Hanker album (first-album-purchased syndrome?), I must say that "Web Of Faith" is without question their most accomplished work to date. Musically and lyrically this is undeniably Hanker - top notch songwriting and playing, emotion-filled music, intelligent lyrics and goddamn those guitar solos are catchy as ever. I won't orphan the "intelligent lyrics" comment this time: The album opener, "Empower", was inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. There's been quite a few metal songs inspired by that but of all the ones I've seen, I think I can safely say this one has the most mature lyrics of all - rather than some reactionary revenge stuff or some whiny "whyyyy?" kind of lyrics (Shaffer, I'm looking in your direction.) Hanker took a more "generalised" and laid back approach and managed to express anger, disbelief and sadness without sounding like angry school kids or retarded CNN couch potatoes. Er… I got a little carried away here. :) I don't want to go on a song-by-song basis as it would then be quicker for you to go buy the album than to finish reading the review. Suffice it to say that Hanker made part of their name with the quality of their lyrics and they're delivering the goods once again.

The album is overall more aggressive and maybe a bit darker theme-wise than the previous albums, although the Hanker sound and style is still instantly recognisable. There's a similar balance of rockers and "power ballads" as in the previous albums (two out of twelve tracks), and even if you're not too much into power ballads, the great guitar parts will help you get through them. Overall the songs are kept relatively short - most are below or barely above 5 minutes in length except for "Face to Face" and the epic-sounding title track. While mostly a collection of "traditional heavy metal", like in "Snakes and Ladders" there's also a couple of more power metal-ish songs in there with a sound closer to American power metal rather than the happy Euro power metal (yeah, I know, they're not all happy-sounding bands over there, but you get the idea. ;))

Overall "Web of Faith" shows evolution on the part of the band without sacrificing their signature sound: It's different but it's still Hanker. Those who might have found their previous material a bit too "tame" for their taste might want to check this one out. Fans of the previous albums are guaranteed to love this. Welcome to intelligent music. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go treat myself to another dose of those great guitar solos. ;)

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