HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Herod - For Whom The Gods Would Destroy

Buffalo, NY's Herod actually have a punk past, but man, have they mastered metal. This bloody thing just leaps off the plastic with a recording that has more punch than Andy Sneap knob-jobbing after a bottle of Jack. And the music is worthy of the production bombast, Herod creating a gorgeous combination of Swedish thrash, Finnish drear/thrash/doom and... hard to pin... but all the things that made Metallica great, sorta in a space between Master and Justice. Vocalist Judah Nero croons a bit like Hetfield, and the riffs... man, check out 'Revelations' or 'I Will' for again, something that possesses the excitement you felt when you first heard 'Seek And Destroy' but with a sensibility up there among The Crown or The Haunted. And not an ounce of punk anywhere, unless you accept a bit of a Shadows Fall comparison (see 'Into The Sky'). Killer stuff, ornate yet loose, melodic yet so knowing of European metal's push-worthy buttons.
Rating 9

Hammerfall - One Crimson Night
(Nuclear Blast)

Offering everything you'd want out of a live album, Hammerfall make this thing look and sound like Live After Death, stuffing the book full of very professional live shots and more casual backstage/travel shots, stacked upon two CDs of punchy recordings from the band's controversial but glory-bound back catalogue. The set is spirited throughout, quite the feat given that it is the product of one show in he band's hometown of Goteborg, Sweden (hear Joacim talk a lot on Swedish and also English). As a bonus, there are three tracks recorded in Chile and Mexico, and as a not so bonus, an awful bass solo. But the production is incredible, the band achieving a perfect mix of themselves and crowd, the best I've ever heard in that respect, the crowd sounding like part of the rhythm section, making each anthem sound like the work of a slushing, sloshing, headbanging army. For those somewhat unconvinced of Hammerfall's schtick (me), this is most definitely the best way to dig into the band's storm of hails, simply because the golden hall-filled enthusiasm rent asunder by a brotherhood of sun and steel seems to create a synergistic effect that warms the cockles. Note: pretty cool cover too, I believe one of the first that drags the punters time-travel-like into one of these dumb-ass moat metal paintings.
Rating 8

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