Tuesday, May 04, 2004

A review of "Beyond the Gates," by Cans...lead singer of Hammerfall posted on Digital Metal. This is his first solo album in addition to continuing to work with Hammerfall.

It’s no secret amongst anyone who knows me personally that I have a strong distaste for the band Hammerfall. They just never struck me as anything special or anywhere near deserving of the oceans of hype that come surrounding them. I’ve always thought of them as barely average at best. So, suffice it to say that I was less than enthused at the impending release of the debut solo release from Hammerfall vocalist Jocaim Cans. IN fact, Cans was one of the main problems I had with the Hammerfall. His voice, while always in key and sporting decent melodies, always sounded weak and thin to me. I couldn’t avoid it, though. I had to put it in the player…if for no other reason than out of respect for Mat Sinner (Sinner / Primal Fear) and “Metal” Mike Chalsciak (Halford / Pain Museum), both of whom contributed to Beyond The Gates. After letting the album sink in a bit, I have to admit, somewhat against my will, that it’s actually pretty decent. Ok, fine…it’s good. There, I said it. It’s a lot darker and more intense than anything I have heard from Hammerfall, and as a result comes off a lot heavier. Cans’ voice? While he still comes off a little thin, it’s this reviewer’s opinion that he is more at home in this material than in Hammerfall. It’s hard to explain. He sounds more serious and intense on the Cans material, he just sounds weak and cheesy in Hammerfall. Maybe it’s the music he’s singing on…I don’t know. At any rate, this is a strong, heavy record of melodic Heavy Metal. The riffs are big and thick, sporting a heavy “wall of sound” type of tone. The keys are equally big, but not overbearing. In fact, on a sonic level, this record is stellar. I love the mix. The songs are strong and catchy, with good melodies and choruses. As I already stated, Cans (the man) sounds totally at home in this heavier material. He sounds like he’s injecting more “oomph” in his delivery. Opening track “Fields Of Yesterday” is a good sign of what’s to come on the remainder of the record. It’s got an epic vibe without losing any of its heaviness or becoming too musically overbearing. ”The Key” is a melodic, dark, moody track. A heavy, plodding riff coupled with a strong vocal melody make this one memorable. The chorus is almost choir-like in delivery. “Silent Cries” is another highlight of the record, with its melodic, mid-tempo intro and staccato, chugging verse riff. Other highlights on the record include “The Soul Collector”, the power ballad “Forever Ends” and the excellent title track “Beyond The Gates”. All in all, I guess I am eating a little crow on this one. Despite my perpetual animosity toward the hype machine that is Hammerfall, Cans (the man and the band) has something to be quite proud of with Beyond The Gates. It’s a strong release and worthy of any metal fan’s attention.
[Shawn Pelata]

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