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CANS ‘Beyond The Gates ’ (Noise Records 2004)

Cans is Hammerfall singer Joacim Cans first solo album and heís put together an all star band featuring members of Primal Fear, Fates Warning, Halford and Hammerfall comrade Stefan Elmgren to help him out, not to mention getting the likes of Jeff Waters (Annihilator) and Ronny Milianowicz (ex-Sinergy) to contribute to the writing process.

Personally Iíve always found Joacimís voice to be the weak link in Hammerfall as his voice tends to grate on me, but his performance on this album is superb and works very well with the darker (compared to Hammerfall) tone of the music.

Thereís an occasional Evergrey-ish sense of dynamics here and, perhaps not surprisingly as Mike Chlasciak seems to be the major guitar player here, thereís a major Halford influence in a lot of songs. The Halford/Evergrey hybrid sound works particularly well on Soul Collector which has a chorus that will lodge itself in your brain for weeks after. Signs is another standout track, definitely the heaviest song on the album and Iím sure it would get a great reaction at any self respecting Ďrealí metal club.

The only really weak track is ironically the one I was looking forward to most when I saw that it was co-written by Annihilator mainman Jeff Waters. Forever Ends is not the fast, thrashy song that you might expect, but instead is a terrible power ballad that is so twee you suspect even Bon Jovi would have thrown it away for being too lightweight! But then, you canít really complain about one terrible song when the other eleven are so good and as itís the last song on the album itís easy enough to avoid without ruining the flow of the album.

This is a must have album for all fans of the darker side of Power Metal, whether youíre a fan of Hammerfall or not.

****

Review by Neil Woodfin

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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