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Hammerforce - "Dice" (CD)

Hammerforce - "Dice" CD cover image

"Dice" track listing:

1. Dice (4:19)
2. Fury Of The Nordmen (3:51)
3. Malleus Maleficarum (4:57)
4. Fall Of Monsegur (5:14)
5. Pink-minded World (4:07)
6. Quest To The Lonely Mountain (5:58)
7. We Are The World Pollution (5:41)
8. Piano (8:07)
9. Breakaway (4:54)

Reviewed by on February 26, 2009

"Hammerforce’s debut album is probably something worth checking out, even if it is only to see how some brave musicians are willing to eschew tradition, and fearlessly combine music genres that at first glance don’t belong together."

Russia’s newest metal band, Hammerforce, calls themselves power metal, but their strange mix of classic hardcore guitars, techno synthesizers, and upbeat drum tempos force them into a category all their own. To call them eclectic is putting it mildly. Yet even though their compositions are different, Hammerforce manages something many other bands struggle with – the ability to switch styles so seamlessly that the music never seems disjointed.

Many will find the opening track, “Dice,” a strange mix. It, like many other songs on the album, serves up a heavy dose of dance club techno, that then gets layered behind typical power metal drums and the occasional fret frenzied guitar. Though one of the weaker tracks on the compilation, it’s a sampling of the style to be found throughout.

Next up is “Fury Of The Nordmen,” which adds some funk guitar to the mix. The electronica and power metal combinations are getting better, and by “Malleus Maleficarum,” the composition actually seems logical. The jazzy keyboards add a unique flair, and the short, choppy vocals in the chorus are reminiscent of the Cure.

Many of the tracks are a blending of opposites. “Punk-minded World” combines mellow classical piano notes with classic metal guitar riffs, as does “Piano,” one of the better songs on the album. The first full minute of “Piano” features a simple, classic piano; then enters the synth-infused power metal, though the piano still keeps pace. A Hendrix styled guitar takes the spotlight briefly, and finally, a jazzy piano duels with intermittent hardcore guitar riffs.

“Quest To The Lonely Mountain” provides classic rock ballad instrumentals reminiscent of Journey, combined with warrior lyrics and vocals, and a chugging bass line. Here, the techno breakdown shows signs of being out of place. Still, it says a lot that Hammerforce can combine such a wide array of musical elements, including bongos in the final track, “Breakway,” with only a few quirky moments.

Power metal fans will probably favor the more traditional tracks, “Fall Of Monsegur” and “We Are The World Pollution.” Both offer a bit of the theatrical, but easily fall into the power metal category. Neither, though, is of the lofty, soaring instrumentals DragonForce mode.

Hammerforce’s debut album is probably something worth checking out, even if it is only to see how some brave musicians are willing to eschew tradition, and fearlessly combine music genres that at first glance don’t belong together.

Highs: "Piano" offers up all that is good in music, while "Fall Of Monsegur" is a solid display of unpretentious melodic power metal.

Lows: Vocals aren’t the greatest; the dance club tempo in "Dice" makes it a bit too eccentric.

Bottom line: Whether or not listeners will like the album is a toss-up, but it’s worth checking out simply because it offers something different.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)