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Hammerfall - Feb. 22, 2007 - Dublin, Ireland @ Temple Bar Music Centre

By: Ken McGrath

Say what you want about HammerFall, thereís one thing you have to give itóthe band puts on a great show. On its albums the outfit is good for a few tunes before you generally grow weary of it, but when you see the group onstage it's captivating. Sure, it's still more than a little cheesy, but itís forgivable. Itís what HammerFall does, after all.

The act may not be a true power metal band, but it's definitely true metal. Epic choruses, flaming solos and hard-rocking tunes are what itís all about. And with HammerFall packing more "whoa whoa whoa" singalongs than youíd expect to hear this side of a Bon Jovi concert, itís an unashamedly good time. The band is without attitude or pretensions, and in the crowd thereís none of that posturing or attempting to look cool either. Everyone, including the band, seems intent on enjoying themselves. Heads are banged, lighters are held aloft when called for and from stage to back wall, left to right, people chant along. From the back of the venue it looks as if a fleet of mice are running underneath a carpet, thereís so much movement from the long-haired faithful.

Tracks from HammerFall's most recent offering, "Threshold," like "Natural High" and "Rebel Inside," sit just right alongside such older fan favorites as "Legacy Of Kings," "HammerFall" and "Bloodbound." Frontman Joacim Cans was in fine form too, leading his spiked-up merry men into battle from the front of the stage, and you'd be hard-pressed to not get swept up in it all. That strong yet melodic singing and sheer amount of memorable choruses is the edge that HammerFall has over so many others. It rocks hard, with guitarists Oscar Dronjak and Stefan Elmgren constantly playing up to the crowd, but it is that tuneful sheen that lifts their concerts above your standard metal show.

The absolute highlight is when drummer Anders Johansson goes into his solo. Starting off with fairly straightforward rhythms, he steps from behind the kit and plays from the outside of it all the way around. He then proceeds to the floor, tapping out a beat along the stage until he gets to the mic stand, leading the laughing but suitably impressed audience through a quick run of "London Bridge Is Falling Down." Best drum solo ever? Not likely. Most memorable part of the evening? Hell yeah! HammerFall, as entertaining as you like. Good times.

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