The champion Templar Knights of the 21st century return from another triumphant metal crusade, heeding the call of the wild with full strike. The renegade - rebel inside - trailblazers of the metal age attempt to attain a natural high, howlin' with the 'pac. The unchained warlords of sonic genocide entertain by hammering out their thrash - old and new. The blood bound brothers and titan warriors of faith, remain forever unbound, unbent, unbroken, on the edge of honour. Their carved in stone cold metal has truly withstood the test of time and the secrets of steel. The question on everyone's mind is - are Hammerfall ready to reign over dreamland, at the edge of the rainbow, and secure their own shadow empire?
On this their sixth studio endeavour, can they keep the flame burning, and does the fire burn forever, and ever? There is no doubt that indeed the templars flame is still lit and always will be. I believe the threshold of balance has been reached; such that essentially the eternal fire still burns. I feel the fire and I hear the call of crimson thunder. Sadly, even though the fire does burn; it fails to sear, singe, or scar. The lightning strikes, but misses its mark. My thrash hold of tolerance is tempted. I'm compelled to brandish the unforgiving blade of disillusionment and castigate these riders of the storm, who have now begun running with the devolved sound.
Do you remember yesterday when Hammerfall's glory to the brave legacy of kings, meant pure power metal at maximum speed? Lately, it seems that those once destined for glory, have written back to back, petty made in a hurry, humour fallacies. Threshold falls somewhere between the songwriting of Chapter V and Crimson Thunder, with hints of Renegade. I will always be a Hammerfall fan and I will always support them, no matter what. I never, ever will cease in enjoying the wonderful music which they create. I just wish they would write another solid metal masterpiece. The hammer of justice demands this, so do the loyal fans; lest the hammer wielders fall out of favour, and become the fallen ones, altogether. Dreams come true, and Hammerfall have the ability to regain the throne of tyranny. They just need to get back to the roots and dig up old graveyard classics.
That all having been said, Threshold is not without its uplifting moments. The songwriting may mostly falter leaving me a tad wiley and furious, and the lyrical content may lead to one's discontent, with those once eternal dark words now becoming trite and trivial; but the production by Charlie Bauerfeind is top notch, and the awesome cover artwork by Samwise Didier is spectactular. Some of the best songs include the single Natural High (selected by Anders), for which Hammerfall have fashioned their best video yet. With a theme about a vampire's euphoric state being achieved by dining on blood, Hammerfall excel in writing about a commonplace metal subject, with this their first attempt. The video portrays Hector as a buff vampire slayer who decimates the creatures of the night with his demolition hammer blow.
There is even a guest appearance by Chris Jericho. Shadow Empire and Genocide are also tried and true, soon to be Hammerfall classics. Howlin' With The 'Pac has Hammerfall becoming wanton weakened warriors on a lad's night out. The Fire Burns Forever has a real Hearts On Fire flavour to it, leaving my human heart racing, pumped, and primed. The brooding epic Dark Wings, Dark Words suggests that the damned warchild/warlord spirit is still present in their mettle hearts, still hard to tear apart. The best song, by far, and easily the fastest, hammers my heart and falls in the form of a blazing instrumental - ensuring the Reign Of The Hammer, indeed!
Overall, Hammerfall short of achieving an outstanding deliverance of the truest heavy metal when compared to the new Heavenly and their ilk. They still write excellent music in memoriam, by borrowing from their idols: Manowar (Rebal Inside), Warlord (Dark Wings, Dark Words), Judas Priest (Carved In Stone and Genocide), and Accept (Titan). The heroes return to the standard style which they made essentially popular during the stagnant mid '90s era. Unfortunately, they have become stung by the wasp and already have begun repeating themselves a little too much; with several songs sounding a little too similar. This is why I must remove some chalices; given their tautaulogical rising force.
Still, steel meets steel and the way of the warrior is stronger than all. Hammerfall have become the raving lords of lore, seizing and taking the black angel of merciless music under their own dark wings again proving that even the eternal dark has a silver lining. This is owing to the fact the no matter what, Hammerfall are the true metal warriors born to rule as imperial leaders of renegade steel. I will end this review with a congruent statement found in the title track: "We are one, we will unite at the threshold of the universe...".