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 mighty power metal warriors, the band that has managed to land popularity awards the world over, has returned with their sixth full-length studio album. I can't believe that this band has recorded six albums thus far. I can still remember hearing the debut, "Glory To The Brave", back in the mid-90s and thinking there is just no way this will work. It did and it has. In many ways HammerFall has probably surpassed Iron Maiden status with today's younger metal generation. Some newer metal fans may be more likely to jam these records than the classic and legendary "Killers" and "Number Of The Beast" types. Motorhead drummer Mickey Dee once stated in an interview that a kid at an airport saw his Maiden shirt and said, "Maiden is very cool, almost as good as HammerFall". It is a sad fact but one that probably holds true. For me personally I have stood behind the band, firmly embracing their brand of Euro power metal and dismissing critics who claim this is just simply too much cheese. It isn't the fault of the band that their music is easily identifiable with today's generation. It is just simply polished heavy metal that has been played for more than twenty-five years. The same formula works with the band's newest venture.
"Threshold" is made up of the same types of songs we have heard from the band over time. This one shows us dash and flash pacers like "Natural High" (album's first single), "Shadow Empire", and the Running Wild styled "Reign Of The Hammer". The band throw in some great mid-paced hook with solid sluggers like "Rebel Inside" and "Titan". The group also hits some traditional nods with the somewhat generic "Howlin' With The 'Pac" and title track "Threshold". The well placed ballad "Dark Wings, Dark Words", complete with eerie mood and atmosphere, is a refreshing "slow down" that really breathes dynamics and diversity among this much bravado and metallic clang. Charlie Bauerfeind steps in to produce once again, paying a bit more notion to bottom end and bass than the typical HammerFall effort.
Bottom Line - Certainly not hitting the career high mark set forth by "Crimson Thunder", but still a solid catalogue piece that should please fans and grow a few more. At some point though the band may need to stop taking themselves so seriously. A little variety may be the key to long term survival.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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