The band recently playing to huge crowds at Graspop and Hellfest, Gloryhammer, also recently released their third album Legends Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex, which has already climbed charts in the EU as well as US and Canada as fans have been waiting for more of the epic power metal Gloryhammer is known for.
The Scottish band Gloryhammer started by Alestorm vocalist Chris Bowes (keyboards here) largely as a way to explore symphonic and epic metal and is seen as one of metal’s favorite sons as they manage to take as many metal clichés as possible and use them in song in such a way that everyone is in on the joke and yet somehow it all embodies everything metalheads love. The band released Tales from the Kingdom of Fife in 2013, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards in 2015, and now the conclusion (?) to the trilogy, Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex in 2019. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, I can’t go into the overall story except to say that it spans time and dimensions, but it’s worth the time to listen and hear the epic tales.
The track “Gloryhammer” might be the best introduction to the band and the album one could imagine as it captures everything that sets them apart and makes them so entertaining, especially in a live setting I would imagine. Fortunately, the band made a video for the track which helps add to the image as well. Following a gang yell of “Glory…hammer” an riff reminiscent of Rammstein’s Du Hast kicks in but is accented by some keyboards that sound like something out of late 80’s Rainbow and that contradiction initially throws you off but works brilliantly. Thomas Winkler’s strong vocals approach near raggedness at times but are delivered with a commanding tone and style and the manner in which they are delivered in the video really adds to the image and less-than-serious nature of the band. The band itself was started by Christopher Bowes (Alestorm) who moves to keyboards here and the rest of the band assumes characters from the epic story told in their songs and live appears appropriately costumed. While in one sense a parody as they skewer non-English speaker lyrics and fantasy science fiction stories, the band performances are completely done with exquisite attention to detail and the musical performances are strong.
The album just simply works and while I’m not a fan of intro tracks, “Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath” serves as a nice symphonic introduction, much like you’d expect in an epic science fiction movie. From there the power metal album takes off at breakneck speed filled with fast riffs and plenty of double bass work to keep the songs galloping along. When you add in the strong vocals and epic choruses, there’s a lot to like here. From a style standpoint, Gloryhammer reminds me a bit of Wind Rose from Italy but while Wind Rose goes for the more ancient Viking “dwarven” metal, science fiction rules the day for Gloryhammer.
As one might imagine on a concept album that wraps up a trilogy, there may be some awkward song titles to fill in plot holes and one such one here is “Legendary Enchanted Jetpack”. To actually put a title like that on a song and then build a song that fits the title seems like it may be a daunting task, but the band approaches situations like these with such musical abandon that one can’t help feel the sheer joy of the band coming through the speakers.
The album closes out with “The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny” a beyond epic 12 minute masterpiece that provides some closure to the overall story but may in fact also open the door to a fourth part of the trilogy and in an effort to avoid any spoilers, I will not go into the lyrical content anymore than that as a good part of the fun here is seeing how the story ends.
While much as been said about the story and satirical/parody elements of the Gloryhammer, the best part is that the band in incredibly talented as musicians and songrwriters, creating songs that inspire head bobbing, fist pumping, and loud singing of the epic choruses that often proceed at breakneck speed driven by great riffs and solid rhythm section.
Written by John Jackson
01. “Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath”
02. “The Siege of Dunkeld (In Hoots We Trust)”
03. “Masters of the Galaxy”
04. “The Land of Unicorns”
05. “Power of the Laser Dragon Fire”
06. “Legendary Enchanted Jetpack”
09. “Battle for Eternity”
10. “The Fires of Ancient
Note: the Deluxe version has symphonic instrumental versions of the tracks in addition to the regular versions…worth checking out.
Record Label: Napalm Records, 2019
Christopher Bowes (Zargothrax) – keyboards, backing vocals
Paul Templing (Ser Proletius) – guitars, backing vocals
Ben Turk (Ralathor) – drums
James Cartwright (Hootsman) – bass, backing vocals
Thomas Winkler (Angus McFife XIII) – lead vocals
Video for ‘Gloryhammer’
Video for ‘Hootsforce’
Lyric video for ‘Masters of the Galaxy’