Friday, October 2, 2015

Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos wizards (2015)

Power metal is a funny genre. It is a very simple genre that is easy to enjoy, but also easy to hate. It also has its cheesy clichés that are hard to ignore while inspecting a newly released album. It gets even funnier when the band was created as sort of a parody band, bringing up all of those cliches, and adds a whole new dimension to them. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Gloryhammer.

Created by Christopher Bowes, singer and keyboardist of the renowned pirate metal band Alestorm, Gloryhammer tells the story of the epic and magical fights and tales from the wondrous and mysterious land we humans know as Scottland. In their debut, "Tales From The Kingdom of Fife", we got to know our hero Angus McFife, a brave king that defends his land from the evil wizard overlord Zargothrax. Does this sounds wacky to you? You have heard nothing yet.

Because in their sophomore album, they take the battle out to space, and to the future, more specifically the distant year of 1992. "Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos Wizards" is bigger, badder, cheesier, and most of all, better than its predecessor in any possible way. You just have to take a look at the band's new costumes to find out how far they have taken this project. Just look at Thomas Winkler, he has transformed from the Green Goblin's personal knight to the perfect mash up of Iron Man and The Green Lantern. I can only imagine the insanity they create on stage, with the costumes and their characters.

Behold, the mighty heroes (and villain) that makes Gloryhammer
The story here is taking place a full millennium after the first album, Zargothrax has been released from his prison of liquid ice and seeks revenge of McFife's kingdom. To stop his horrible plans of unlocking a portal that will finish off all life in the galaxy, Angus McFife XIII sets out on a quest to gather a mighty army, the ancient city Inverness, and yes, even Hollywood, CA. It all leads up to a grand and epic battle the likes the world have never seen. To say that the band took the whole concept over the top is an understatement.

The story is a fun one, but it gets a lot of help from the music. Because despite using a style that many would think is outdated and stupid, Gloryhammer sounds fresh, being more exciting than a lot of the more modern power metal bands out there today. Gloryhammer helps one remember why you loved this genre in the first place. The epic tales, the powerful music, and the confidence this album is showing are all huge parts of what makes "Space 1992..." such a wonderful record. Almost feels like you are a kid again, searching the CD shelves to find this colorful and intriguing album that sets of a spark inside you that turns into a hot flaming passion for metal.

"Space 1992..." does also have a impressive amount of variation in it, which certainly keeps it from being stiff. We do of course have the more or less standard, speedy power metal songs, like "Universe On Fire" and "Rise of The Chaos Wizards", and they are a clear highlight just because they fit the theme so well. Those are being mixed in with some more theatrical, Rhapsody of Fire like power tunes ("Goblin King of The Darkstorm Galaxy") and muscle metal ("Victorious Eagle Warfare"), but I do also hear that Bowes has borrowed some tricks from his other band Alestorm and implemented them in "The Hollywood Hootsman". A nice little touch. The strongest portion though is when the album reaches its epic finale, with the duo of "Heroes (of Dundee)" and "Apocalypse 1992", two ultra epic songs that does give the album, and its tale, the epic closure it deserves. If this was a movie, everybody would stand up in the movie theater and applaud while the credits starts to roll.

Yes, "Space 1992: Rise of The Chaos Wizards" is cheesy, but Gloryhammer does something that has not been done in at least a decade, bring something new and exciting to the medieval power metal. Taking the story into space is one factor, but it is also the great musicality that should get a lot of praise here for being the strong force that the genre needed. Gloryhammer does look a little ridiculous in their outfits, but I do not mind at all, because this is what makes metal so great, that a goofy gang that seems like they are ready for a game of Dungeons & Dragons can make such incredible music. I cannot wait to see what kind of shenanigans Angus McFife and Zargothrax will embark on in the future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Heroes (of Dundee), The Holliwood Hootsman, Universe On Fire, Apocalypse 1992

Rating: 9/10 Goblin Kings

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