Gloryhammer may well take the crown for most over-the-top act in existence and live in concert I would still argue they reign supreme. Recently I underwent a holy pilgrimage to the concrete citadel of London, to catch the Anglo-Swiss power metal band on the first night of their European ‘Galactic Terrortour’. It was a full night of new songs, new theatrics but the same old cheesy, cliché space metal tropes we’ve grown to love from them.
Out on the road to promote their new album, ‘Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex’, Gloryhammer brought with them two bands to help support their mighty gospel; Italian Dwarven metal enthusiasts, Wind Rose, and Finnish power metalists, Beast In Black.
As we waited outside the gig, the metal fences beginning to border us on all sides, I realized how close my partner and I were to the venue’s doors. The venue? Well, one you might not expect from a heavy dosage of heroic fantasy power metal. The Heaven nightclub, in London, completely sold out with fans hungry to air-punch, lose their voices and generally have a glorious time. Soon we found ourselves inside the renowned stone archways, closer to the stage than we thought possible. We must have been in the fifth row or so from the front when the Italian Wind Rose came out, clad in full Dwarven metal armour, and greeting us with an expletive. ‘Are you mother***ers ready for some metal?!” was replied with an overwhelming roar from the crowd, and soon they began.
Wind Rose’s mere five song set was still an electrifying thirty minutes of non-stop Dwarven power. They looked amazing on stage, and sounded even better, their newest hits ‘Drunken Dwarves’ and ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’ proving extremely popular with the crowd. I found my fists high in the air, my hair already slick with sweat – most likely just as much from the heat of the small, underground arena than my own energy – and chanting along to tracks from across their rich discography.
If Wind Rose got us warmed up for the main act, then power metal titans Beast in Black baptized us in a wreath of Finnish fire. Playing eight of their biggest hits – from ‘Blind and Frozen’ and ‘Born Again’ to ‘Sweet True Lies’ – they absolutely slaughtered it. Their heavy fusion of synth, arena rock and ground-shattering vocals from frontman Yannis Papadopoulos was enthralling, and I must have screeched at the top of my lungs when they played ‘Unlimited Sin’ – It sounded perfect. The two support acts were nothing short of phenomenal, and I would definitely be interested in seeing them headline in years to come.
And then, as the clock struck half past eight (and following a downright bizarre performance of ‘Delilah’ from a cardboard cutout of Tom Jones that will never be explained), Gloryhammer took to the stage, each member resplendent in outlandish fantasy attire that would incur the envy of many a D&D nerd. Vocalist Thomas Laszlo Winkler, clad in armour and tight spandex pants, wasted no time in battering into the first track of the new record, ‘The Siege of Dunkeld (In Hoots We Trust)’, with notes that would made Rob Halford weep. The Hootsman – bassist for the band – radiated the stage presence of Bowie at his prime, commanding the swathe of headbanging followers with a flick of his wrist.
My voice was already hoarse before the next single from the album, the crowd-pleasing ‘Gloryhammer’, erupted from the stage. Winkler, as a dashing Angus McFife XIII, Crown Prince of Dundee, was a master in fan interaction, gesturing cheer after cheer between verses. The evil keyboardist, Zargothrax, sounded particularly malevolent as he explained the mystic enchantments he had spun.
The band’s signature anthem, ‘Angus McFife’ garnered vocal support from every corner of the room, and the atmosphere hadn’t even reached its zenith yet. Watching this live brought me back to the very reason I fell in love with Gloryhammer in the first place. They don’t take themselves seriously, but they still create music that kicks ass and sounds brilliant live. What other band could swish their capes onstage as they barrel into another verse about an alternate version of Scotland full of undead unicorns?
The band dived back into classics from their second album, ‘Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards’, interwoven with personal favourites from their new record. And then, at last, we reached possibly the most anticipated track of the event. ‘Hootsforce’, a nigh-four minute piece merging electric-techno and power metal, was bound to polarize some fans. But for everyone in the audience that fateful day, it was an unstoppable force. The entire right side of the room was overcome with a need to move, and soon I found myself on the outskirts of a colossal mosh pit. Whilst I might not have joined in, I banged my head in time to the booming drum that resounded through the very stone. It was awesome, and I cannot wait for the day I may experience it again.
Two more excellent choices from the new ‘Legends…’ and the band swept off stage, only to return, valiant as ever, just a few minutes after. Their encore began with the opener of their sophomore album, the majestic ‘Rise of the Chaos Wizards’, which came as a pleasant surprise. The final chorus rocked, and as their other techno hit, ‘Universe on Fire’, came, I found myself savouring every minute. We had been there for nearly four hours at that point. My feet killed, my neck ached, and my throat was in dire need of water. But by the sacred Gods of Dundee, I would have stayed there another four if they asked us to.
Their final song of the night, my favourite Gloryhammer song of all time, ‘The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee’ was flawless, and proved a testament to their enduring skill despite an already long night of consistently demanding vocals. Finally, as their set came to a stop, they stood on the precipice of that stage and bathed in their glory. They were perfect, they were awesome, they were Gloryhammer.
I would highly recommend anyone to give these guys a listen. They bring hoots from the distant future, and boy does that sound great live.