|Review: Hammerfall - Threshold|
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year released: 2006
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: October 3, 2006
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 2.77/5 (55.45%) (22 Votes)
That was quick, little more than a year after the release of Chapter V Hammerfall are back with their 6th full-length disc. A far cry from the three-year wait after Crimson Thunder. Sometimes I think reviewing Hammerfall albums is kind of pointless, as on the one hand the fanboys will buy this whatever anybody says, and the people who hate this band will never buy it no matter how good I said it was. But it's even harder to review this when it is so relentlessly bland.
Now it doesn't sound bland out of the gate. The production here is stronger than last time out, with a fatter, heavier guitar sound, while not being as horribly overproduced as the egregious Crimson Thunder, so that's good. The mix on Joachim's vocals is even decent, so he sounds stronger than his usual rather weak performance. The riffs are pretty good here, and they have a nice crunch to them. Plus Hammerfall seem to have toned down the pretension, so this album has no tiresome moments like "Knights Of The 21st Century".
But – you knew there was a but, right? – but while the verses and incidental melodies are perfectly good on here, the choruses are severely lacking. It took me a while to really pin that down. If you listen to the parts of this album they all sound pretty good, except there are no really good choruses like "Stone Cold", or "Stronger Than All", or even "The Fury Of The Wild", and that makes a lot of the songs on here fall flat. "The Fire Burns Forever" gets some momentum going, but it has the lamest, most cliché chorus on the whole album. "Rebel Inside" is pretty much the same way. "Howlin' With The Pack" is about the only really good song on here, with an actual singable chorus. A lot of these songs subscribe to the "Have a bunch of guys yell the song title" school of choruses (see "Shadow Empire"), which is about as exciting as a bowl of wet toast. You can get away with it here and there, but it's the dominant approach on this album. Make no mistake, the music here is pretty solid, if unimaginative – not that we expect blazing originality from Hammerfall – serviceable Heavy Metal, but in this kind of metal, the chorus is the money shot – you have to have good ones, and this album really doesn't.
It's easy to dis Hammerfall just because they're popular, but really, I don't expect much from them, just a solid, enjoyable basic metal album every few years. But here they missed the groove and have produced a frustrating album that should have been really good, but isn't. Instead they made a disc I had to make myself listen to, and that's never a good sign. Disappointing.
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