Cans - Beyond The Gates
Joacim Cans, vocalist of well known Hammerfall, delivers
his first outing as a solo artist. The questions on forehand is: will
it sound Hammerfall?
During the first encounter with the album I felt a little bit "Ok...aha...good, but that's about it" about it, but already during the second listening the album started to grow and it has not stopped growing since. Slowly but sure the songs sink in and you appreciate their simplicity and once they stick, after a few rounds, the album has by then grown to a very solid card in the metal scene.
Backed up by very prominent musicians (Mat Sinner of Primal Fear/Sinner, Mark Zonder of Fates Warning, Metal Mike Chlasciak of Halford, his Hammerfall partner Stefan Elmgren, among others), the musical and technical aspect of this is more than acceptable, as everyone is doing a competent and solid job. Heavy, compact sound with a good production, and it is tight and professional. In all its simpleness and heavyness, it is still melodic and catchy, but not in a "la-la-la" way, but instead a more mature way. There are a lot of the classic, 80's riffs in the veins of Halford and Hammerfall, due to obvious reasons, and the refrains invite to sing along in a live situation in the true spirit of the genre.
There are obvious parallells to be drawn with Hammerfall if you want to do that, but the differences are way more than the similarities. The pace is taken down a few notches and rely more on heaviness and depth than speed and double bass drums. There is in fact only a few songs that can be called uptempo, and that's Back To Hell, Merciless and Signs, but saying that they are forged in a more grinding, pumping riff-way would be closer to the truth. It is also more naked and raw compared to Hammerfalls more flamboyant approach, and the songwriting here is beyond par. The vocals are also better than what Cans normally accomplish in Hammerfall, as he get to adjust them to the more darker feeelings on this album and it works very well. More emotional and stronger would be my description about the oral effort.
The verses and the refrains deserves an own little remark, as they can be considered to be both the strength and on a few occasions, a slight weakness, on this recording. They are more mature and varied than what we are used to hear this man sing, and sometimes even brilliant. At the same time, they occasionally tend to feel a little bit too similar in the way they are built up. But it's all very well done, so it's just a minor reflection that does not affect the grades of the overall effort.
I recommend this album to any of you who like straight,
heavy metal with lots of melodies, or just are a fan of the genre that
would like to hear Cans' vocals in a more different and heavy package.
This album gets a thumb up from me and I have the feeling it will be
played a lot, and I am really interested to see what will come from
this man in the future.