HammerFall
Threshold


3.0
good

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
October 30th, 2006 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


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 definitely worth looking into, even if it is generic.

Recommended Tracks:
Threshold
Natural High
The Fire Burns Forever
Shadow Empire



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user ratings (125)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mikesn
Emeritus
October 30th 2006


3709 Comments


Not the best intro, but meh.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Tarantino's Tarantulas
October 31st 2006


819 Comments


Excellent review. Ive not heard this band aside from a video I saw on TV a few nights ago. My cheese detector went off the scale.

Mikesn
Emeritus
October 31st 2006


3709 Comments


That's something you have to expect from Hammerfall. :p

Thor
November 1st 2006


10198 Comments


I think it's safe to say that I won't be checking this out. There's no point of listneing to Hammerfall if you can just pick up a Rhapsody album which will always be better.

Astounding work, as always.

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 1st 2006


3709 Comments


I've never really been able to get into Rhapsody. But they're easily better than Hammerfall.

Dethtrasher
November 29th 2006


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I got this album quite recently and I liked it more than I thought. I agree that this is quite generic PM but I my favourites happens to be ''Rebel Inside'' and ''Carved In Stone'' :p

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 29th 2006


3709 Comments


Ugh, Rebel Inside. That one is probably my least favourite song on the whole album. :p

BludgeonySteve
December 17th 2006


558 Comments


Oh man. I thought that this would be better. I should take a listen.

Dethtrasher
January 9th 2007


2211 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If there is something horrible with this band then it would be the bassist clothes, he almost looks like a bum.

Mikesn
Emeritus
January 9th 2007


3709 Comments


Hammerfall's choice of dress is the least of their problems. :p

Lunarfall
February 3rd 2007


3179 Comments


You gotta admit though, Hammerfall does have some of the best power metal album covers. :pThis Message Edited On 02.03.07

pedro70512
August 12th 2011


3095 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Shadow Empire has one of the best power metal riffs ever. That and the "I Want Out" cover (courtesy of Kai Hansen) are about the extent of my Hammerfall catalogue.

Digging: Enabler - La Fin Absolue Du Monde

Antonius
October 1st 2014


232 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I agree over a lot of things you've mentioned here (about the genericness of Hammerfall as a band, the improvement of Oscar & Stefan, the heaviness of "Threshold" as an album in terms of previous releases, etc) but I think your rating is a bit harsh. I also find this as their best release.
Other than that your review is good and accurate in my opinion



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