HammerFall - Crimson Thunder

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: NB1021-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 45:29:00

HammerFall are another one of those metal bands in the mold of Iron Maiden, though vocalist Joacim Cans sings more melodically than Bruce Dickinson. If fist raising, ballsy metal is your thing, then HammerFall will fit in nicely, but this is aggressive power metal that doesn?t tread any new territory. It sounds nice with good production values, but there?s nothing that hooks you into needing to hear it over and over again. That isn?t to say that guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Stefan Elmgren don?t let loose with some interesting riffs. Drummer Anders Johanssen seems to employ a lot of straight bashing, though, joined by a generic galloping thud from bassist Magnus Rosén. There are a couple of interesting tracks here that are worth extra listens, the epic "Angel Of Mercy" and the stately, progressive metal like "In Memoriam." But, these come more than halfway through the album, that latter being the second to last track.

Let me put it this way. I like this, as there is nothing that is horrible or bad -- though one track does fall dangerously close to corny, as I?ll mention later, and another that seems to go nowhere -- but if you were going to recommend an album to a metal newby, this wouldn?t be it. How long time HammerFall fans view this release, I can?t say (though a few reviews I've spotted mention this being a return to form). Being new to the band with this release, I can say that that I?m not blown away by anything here, nothing that has me speaking in hyperbolic terms. But, what they do, they do very well. All the right pieces are in place.

The album opens with the powerful "Riders On The Storm," which is not their take on The Doors? classic (though that was what I initially expected and thought it odd to begin an album with a cover --- now it makes sense). I wouldn't say it's the best track, but the most interesting is "Angel Of Mercy," which is a a cover, of a Chastain piece, and one that throbs darkly, with a big, epic sound. The interest is started by the bass work of Rosén. As it kicks into higher gear, shades of Metallica creep in? and there is an explosive, intriguing guitar passage - not quite solo but an effect. I?d have to say, though, that the instrumental and reverent "In Memoriam" is my favorite track on the album, featuring some nice lead guitar work. It is what you?d expect from a song of this sort, but he has a nice tone and very smooth transitions. It pulls out great performances from everyone - drumming, bass, etc. and becomes the highlight of the album.

In contrast, "Hearts Of Fire" is a little too precious? it has the kind of chorus that might make more than a few groan due to its corniness. This kind of stuff went over better -- though no less cheesy -- in the 80s. "On The Edge Of Honor" takes their Maidenisms into the prog metal territory of Symphony X, though I find Cans? vocals as little too high pitched and whiney to be a comfortable fit. It is a voice that is typical for this genre however, and maybe I?ve been "spoiled" by the likes of Allen, Khan, and even Dickinson, though Cans does sound close to BD. "Lore Of The Arcane" starts interestingly enough with a chorus of voices breathing out "ah-ahs," along with some keyboards, but it ends up going nowhere. It actually just serves as an unnecessary intro to "Trailblazers," a piece that has "single" written all over it (though "Hearts Of Fire" actually held that spot, I understand) and yet really sounds a like a dozen other things in the genre. "Dreams Come True" is the ballad that begins with an acoustic guitar passage that kinda makes me think of Queensryche doing a similar thing. It includes a dark string backing from the second verse. In fact, up to a point, this makes me think of Kansas.

Again, this is not a bad release, as HammerFall are good at what they do, but it doesn't really rise much above being average.

Riders Of The Strom (4:34) / Hearts On Fire (3:51) / On The Edge Of Honour (4:49) / Crimson Thunder (5:05) / Lore Of The Arcane (1:27) / Trailblazers (4:39) / Dreams Come True (4:02) / Angel Of Mercy (5:38) / The Unforgiving Blade (3:40) / In Memoriam (4:21) / Hero's Return (5:23)

Joacim Cans - vocals
Oscar Dronjak - guitar
Magnus Rosén - bass
Stefan Elmgren - guitar
Anders Johansson - drums

Glory To The Brave (1997)
Legacy Of Kings (1998)
Renegade (2000)
Crimson Thunder (2002)
One Crimson Night (2004)
Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken (2005)
Threshold (2006)
Steel Meets Steel - Ten Years Of Glory (2007)
Masterpieces (2008)
No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009)

The First Crusade (DVD/VHS) (1999)
The Templar Renegade Crusades (DVD/VHS)(2002)
Hearts On Fire (DVD) (2002)
One Crimson Night (DVD, box w/CD) (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: July 27th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.hammerfall.net
Hits: 836
Language: english


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