Summer is finally upon us and with it, many, many great albums. For those of us in love with the grander, more symphonic breed of metal, we have already been graced with Rammstein’s eponymous awaited release, and are yet to hear Swedish giants, Sabaton’s, new record, ‘The Great War’.
But the titans of heroic fantasy, interdimensional space metal (power metal, to be general), Gloryhammer, are back with their third album. Boasting a name to rival their previous releases, ‘Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex’ is packed with infectious riffs, epic symphonies and enough cliché humour to fill a space-dwelling submarine. It’s also beautiful return for our hero, Angus McFife XIII, Crown Prince of Dundee, and his adventures in following the dread sorcerer Zargothrax, through alternate realities and countless wars.
Trying to lay out the entirety of Gloryhammer’s lore would be an impossible task, even if you had an empty novel and nothing better to do. But in short, the band members each play important roles in the story they create. Lead singer, Thomas Laszlo Winkler (pushing the band to Swiss-Scottish status. The reason you hear so many references to places in real-life Scotland is because that’s where the music is set. Only in some fantastical version of it. Or something), plays the protagonist, Prince Angus McFife. He was last seen chasing Zargothrax through a wormhole at the end of the band’s sophomore release, ‘Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards’.
Here, he returns to an earlier version of Fife, only it’s different. Wrong. Twisted. Evil. In this alternate dimension, Zargothrax has beat him to it and arisen to Godlike status. The Crown Prince of Dundee must charge his legendary Hammer of Glory once more and utilize the help of a clan of unicorns and fantastically futuristic creations to right has been done. To bring the earth back to justice.
‘Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Viliath’ is what you’d come to expect in a minute-long intro by now. With the guttural tones of Zargothrax filling us in on what’s gone down, the choirs are already in full swing and the orchestra sounds epic. From here we bleed into the first real track, ‘The Siege of Dunkeld (In Hoots We Trust)’. ‘Hoots!’ is the iconic call of the main sideman of Angus’ operation: The Hootsman. In the Gloryhammer community, he’s gained somewhat of a legendary name, and his shout is synonymous with the band itself. Here we heard it barraged at us with an anthem of power metal beauty. It mounts up into a track of good versus evil. It’s Gloryhammer, returned.
‘Masters of the Galaxy’ and ‘The Land of Unicorns’ are quintessentially power metal in nature. With grandiose choruses and notes from Winkler that far surpass that of his choir (and other power metal vocalists), the guitar work is laden with insane hooks and catchy riffs. This is our first taste of Gloryhammer in a long time and it is sweet.
‘Power of the Laser Dragon Fire’ is a grander instalment now, easing up on the guitar and turning the choir up to eleven. It’s the album’s big, over-arching track; McFife coming to terms with what he must do to defeat his nemesis. It sounds great, and it’s a break from Gloryhammer’s norm, if only slightly.
‘Legendary Enchanted Jetpack’ is the only track I’m in two minds about. It’s still a good track, but sometimes feels too overwhelmed with guitar and speedy drum to really know where it’s going. Thankfully, its guitar solo drags it from the depths and returns it to the pedestal it belongs. Besides, in what other album are you going to hear those three words put together? It’s like everyone’s dumbest-yet-creative D&D party come to life.
‘Gloryhammer’ is going to be a live staple, I’m sure. From its repetitive chant to cliché fantasy lyrics, (‘Heavy, metal, goblin, thrasher!’ coming to mind) it simply blows you away. Its sense of scale is astonishing and is a headbanger for sure. It’s only rival in this department is ‘Hootsforce’, a masterpiece of techno-metal. In much the same vein as the band’s previous dive into this niche genre, ‘Universe on Fire’ from their second record, ‘Hootsforce’ builds on every area. It sounds [insert appropriate expletive] beautiful, and that’s still not worthy as a description. Merging their biggest meme with their poppiest sound yet was a perfect decision, and it pays off.
‘Battle for Eternity’ pays the price of being stuck between the record’s best track and the its twelve-minute closer, but don’t let that deter you. It’s a great song, and if anything is going to make you feel heroic here, it’s this one.
‘The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny’ is a whopper in length, the band’s longest track to date, and it sounds amazing. Split into five different parts, it ebbs and flows in symphonic grandeur and plummeting silence, illuminated only with the brushes of hopeless violins. We see the battle for Earth, good versus evil, and each move they make. Zargothrax stands triumphant, until the return of the Hootsman crashes into you – complete with Latin choir. The album closes with a bittersweet sting: Zargothrax is dead, but with him, our favourite Scot, Angus McFife XIII. Pierced with the infamous ‘Knife of Evil’, our valiant hero knows soon his very soul will be corrupted. He must make the ultimate sacrifice. His own life.
It’s a record drenched in power and emotion, and it sounds awesome. Gloryhammer are certainly one of the best up-and-coming power metal bands in a long time. And believe me, there are no shortage of them these days. They have their own version of it, and they’re showing us it’s as worthy as all the rest.
Oh, and they’re on tour this autumn. Be there, or die like a goblin.