Gloryhammer came to exist in the year 2010, with releasing their first album in 2013 and have now followed it up with 2015’s ‘Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards’. James Cartwright mans the bass along with both Ben Turk (on drums) and Paul Templing (guitar) from Sorcerer’s Spell creating a fantastic collaboration of sounds. However, the interesting make up of this terrific Scottish-Swiss powerhouse begins with their keyboardist. Alestorm’s very own lead singer, Christopher Bowes, took the initiative with the formation of Gloryhammer, adding himself on keys and appointing the lead vocals duties to Thomas Winkler. While Gloryhammer is able to drive home a sound that is powerful and exciting, it can at times comes across as an act of tongue in cheek that some may have a hard time taking seriously. The same people that will no doubt preach to each and every release of Manowar, praising its epic storytelling with a straight face.
Each band member has an alter ego or persona that they portray while on stage in full body armour, no less! This is not much different than Ghost BC or GWAR, just set in space. Winkler wails as Angus McFife, Crown Prince of Dundee, heir to the Kingdom of Fife; Bowes runs as Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty; Templing plays Ser Proletius, Grand Master of the Templar Knights of Crail; Cartwright is Hootsman, Barbarian Warrior of Unst; and Ralathor, the Mysterious Hermit of Cowdenbeath is played by Ben Turk who is, of course. one half of Ben and Amy. McFife has, in many ways, an amalgam of characteristics in his vocals that are familiar yet fresh. ‘Space 1992’ has, at times, an ‘Iron Savior’ feel to it. The vocals could almost be interchanged with Piet Sielck from the other side of the galaxy; however, I think McFife has a bit more range similar to Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo in many moments of this album, where it takes inspiration from legendary acts like Blind Guardian, with backups/harmony that nearly equal that of Hansi Kürsch. Matter of fact, I can very happily say that if you enjoy power acts like the aforementioned bands, you will much appreciate this offering from Gloryhammer.
There are no weak tracks on this release. Each song, from opening to close, is equally as majestic as the next. I would say there are a few that I would recommend, only because they solidify this reviewer’s opinion that this should be considered for best power metal album of 2015. ‘Victorious Eagle Warfare’ has an intro of wondrous synth/keyboards that totally separate Gloryhammer from other bands of the same ilk. The lyrics are classically presented and catchy. You’ll find yourself humming the anthem for months (years?) to come. ‘Questlords of Inverness’ could easily have been a cover of a release of Blind Guardian’s. This isn’t a knock of lack of originality, its praise for a band that, so early in its existence, can compete with the best of the best! Tell me they don’t sound like Hansi in backup vocals! ‘Apocalypse 1992’ has an excellent mix of theatrics and metal transitions that give the audience a look into the power-storylines this album offers. These three tracks conclude a trifecta of terrific smashing power metal that will surely win over anyone looking for another band to follow annually.
Gloryhammer is, in many ways, a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Are they as stiff as, say, a band like Iced Earth? No. They also aren’t outright silly like Austrian Death Machine or Alestorm. I’d say they’re somewhere comfortably in between. I have no issues with sharing these tracks with friends and smiling when I see reactions of laughter and energetic cries of “Oh, hell yes!”. This is an album that is an experience rather than just a listen and is too good to not be taken seriously as one of (if not the) best power metal album of 2015. This release ranks with the best of bands like Iron Savior, Gamma Ray, Powerwolf, Battle Beast and Paragon!
SPACE 1992: RISE OF THE CHAOS WIZARDS
Review by Joshua Jaeger
1) Infernus Ad Astra
2) Rise of the Chaos Wizards
3) Legend of the Astral Hammer
4) Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy
5) The Hollywood Hootsman
6) Victorious Eagle Warfare
7) Questlords of Inverness Ride to the Galactic...
8) Universe on Fire
9) Heroes (of Dundee)
10) Apocalypse 1992
11) Dundax Aeterna
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...an album that is an experience rather than just a listen and is too good to not be taken seriously as one of (if not the) best power metal album of 2015."