HammerFall, "Crimson Thunder"
HammerFall is one of the bands I never took seriously enough to listen to more than a handful of the songs. Sure, Remember Yesterday is a great ballad and Steel Meets Steel is a powerful metal anthem, but the band came onto the scene around the time when power metal was making an already cheesy resurgence, and that made HammerFall pretentious and insincere to this writer.
Almost seven years after the band first exploded onto the scene with Glory to the Brave, these five Swede's are back with their fourth full-length album, Crimson Thunder. While the comic book artwork of the album did nothing but put a smirk on my face, from the opening notes of Riders of the Storm, something was different. The likely explanation is the fact that Hammerfall finally withstood a test of time and moved from my “bands to keep ignoring list,” yet, whatever the case may be, the album opener, Riders of the Storm got my attention.
On that song as well as Crimson Thunder as a whole, the band takes a much more straightforward approach to the songwriting, making the songs more simplistic, yet catchy. Yet, while it works for that particular song, it acts as a double-edged sword for the majority of the album, as the speed and the overall complexity heard on the band's previous albums is substituted by chunkier guitar riffs and more of cliche moments [still not enough to rival the ridiculous Dream Evil].
While there are no real stinkers on Crimson Thunder, there are plenty of songs that could be omitted from the disk. For example, the mockery known as Lore of the Arcane, the completely unnecessary Trailblazers, the cover of a crappy 80s rock song Angel of Mercy by Chastain, and the banally painful chorus of Hearts on Fire, all leave a lot to be desired. Still, there are plenty of decent things to find on Crimson Thunder. Aside from the first track, the self-titled track has a standout chorus, Dreams Come True is a good symphonic ballad, In Memoriam is a powerful instrumental, and Hero's Return is a fast paced closer with a thundering chorus.
So, what we have with Crimson Thunder is a solid album by a solid band. Nothing too mind-blowing and over-the-top; just some good ol' metal riffs and catchy songs. Whether it is worth the purchase price depends on how big of a HammerFall fan you are.
Riders of the Storm