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Articles Home » 2002 Articles » Hammerfall - 2002 Crimson Thunder
Hammerfall - 2002 Crimson Thunder

ARTIST: Hammerfall
ALBUM: Crimson Thunder
LABEL: Nuclear Blast
SERIAL: NB 1031-2
YEAR: 2002


LINEUP: Joacim Cans - vocals * Oscar Dronjak - guitars * Stefan Elmgren - guitars * Magnus Rosen - bass * Anders Johansson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Riders Of The Storm * 02 Hearts On Fire * 03 On The Edge Of Honour * 04 Lore Of The Arcane * 05 Trailblazers * 06 Dreams Come True * 07 Angel Of Mercy * 08 The Unforgiving Blade * 09 In Memoriam * 10 Hero's Return * 11 Rising Force (Bonus)

WEBLINKS: www.hammerfall.net

Once touted as the next big thing in the world of traditional heavy metal, Hammerfall seem to have stalled slightly, instead maintaining a solid core audience worldwide, rather than breaking out into the big leagues of the mainstream, which in the metal scene is nearly impossible in this day and age. Hammerfall were the toast of the metal scene back in 1998, after two impressive releases, 1997's 'Glory To The Brave' and 98's 'Legacy Of Kings', both which were a throwback to the classic days of Iron Maiden, Manowar, Judas Priest, 80's Helloween etc. Things quietened somewhat with 2000's 'Renegade', even though it contained certain classics like 'The Champion', critics typically growing weary of the tried and true metal heroics. 'Crimson Thunder' offers no surprises either, and this we should be thankful for, Hammerfall delivering another set of 80's styled anthems, if not consistently rousing.

The Songs
Hammerfall never quite come close to eclipsing their 80's heroes, but they do their best, musically and lyrically. 'Riders Of The Storm' is a competent opener, relying on the gruffly chanted chorus, sung in true macho fashion. Sadly 'Hearts On Fire' is not a John Cafferty cover, but a cracker in its own right, another brilliant hook, with the shout of 'hearts on fire, hearts on fire, burning burning with desire', a rhyme rarely heard! 'On The Edge Of Honour' goes for the 100 mph approach, vintage speed influenced metal, about as true as it gets. For once you feel as if it's for real, rather than the forced retro manner Hammerfall sometimes convey. This shames anything from Manowar's last effort. The title tracks chorus reminds one of Black Sabbath's 'Sign Of The Southern Cross', while 'Trailblazers' manages a fine balance between 80's theatrics and a modern riff attack, but isn't quite as convincing as the toughest 80's bands, too contrived maybe? I take exception to the forced ballad 'Dreams Come True', the stale acoustic stance setting back the album, instead heaviness should be the key. Hammerfall have done this before and it still doesn't impress. An obscure cover is included, 'Angel Of Mercy' from Chastain's 1986 'Ruler Of The Wasteland', an easy fast forward. 'The Unforgiving Blade' is an eye catching title, but falls into the category of not living up to the name, meandering along at half speed, not grabbing you by the balls. A rather uneventful instrumental 'In Memoriam' is even duller, but 'Hero's Return' rescues things slightly, galloping along like Iron Maiden (82-86), but without the sting.

In Summary
There's a catch with this album. Hammerfall stick faithfully to their metal ideals, something not done with much grace in 2003, but never with the same passion as yesteryear. Iron Maiden or Manowar circa 1985 had real force, something only you can sense as a listener. There's an element of power missing from Hammerfall, rectified occasionally by 'Hearts On Fire' and 'On The Edge Of Honour', but not often enough for this to be considered a long lasting favourite. In many regards it differs little musically from current Helloween, a band also including that 'fire and desire' combo in their latest cd. Hammerfall will always have a niche audience, I'll take a gander at what they do, but until it sounds real, the jury's out.

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Tags: Hammerfall 
#1 | george_the_jack on July 10 2008 00:49:46
The Glory to the Brave album was the center of many discussions and surely is one of the strongest debuts and influential albums of the 90's. Great Staff really. The years that followed, Hammerfall improved as musicians but they have never reached the quality and commercial success of 'Glory to the Brave' Back then the 'time and place' was right...
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