Have you ever sat with some mates around a fire with some beverages and hatched epic shenanigans? It might be something like, “I reckon we could take the motor off the mower, put it on the clothes line, put some plastic around it, add detergent, some killer music, a few fireworks, a leaf blower, a statute of a monkey…”
Then, the idea gets larger and larger. Some even come to fruition and epic times are had. Sometimes an ambulance even comes!
Gloryhammer is like that. But, the ideas would be more along the line of, “Let’s make a band that is like Iron Maiden, but add Disney features, make it sound like a wizard-based computer game from the ‘90s, have a brave legion of soldiers, unicorns, dragons, wild mountains, an evil villain who will end the world, one hero to save humanity and a LEGENDARY ENCHANTED JETPACK!”
Gloryhammer are an epic power metal band that are masters of parody. Their brand of Anglo-Swiss symphonic metal sees them take the themes of all things epic – music, movies, literature – and roll them up to the point that they are overdone. Then, they add more and add theatric delivery and ostentatious stage shows. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but because they stay true to the premise, it works.
“Tales from the Kingdom of Fire” was released in 2013 and “Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex” picks up where it left off.
“Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath” begins with a quick narrative to catch the listener up. Right off the bat, the frantic guitar work and possessed synths lay down the soundtrack to the arduous saga upon which we are about to embark. It seems that they will be our constant companions, our heralds of danger, our salves to mend our broken bodies. This track segues seamlessly into “The Siege of Dunkeld (In Hoots We Trust)”.
The guitar riffs really launch into the stratosphere here, obviously enchanted by nebulous wizards. The Herculean tale that unfolds is shared using vocals with an expansive range – the high pitched examples could grab the attention of even the most ill-tempered golem. Astrozombies are introduced and are supported by dynamic percussion. The gravel voiced protagonist emerges, his voice responsible for the recent earthquakes in California. The guitar work on the track is outstanding, with the delivery crisp and clever. There are chants that peasants and royalty alike will join, adding to our connection to the cause.
“Masters of the Galaxy” bursts forwards brilliantly with a stellar opening guitar riff. There is a shift in tempo and sound and the lyrics should come with a warning – that whilst listening you may get the urge to strike a superhero pose. The use of the menacing laugh in this track melted the material of my headphones, such was its malevolence. The busy bass line is an engaging anchor to the track and cogent guitar riffing displays the other worldly talents of the band. I caught myself singing along to this track – it well and truly cast a spell on me.
“The Land of Unicorns” sounded a lot like Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and this brings an immediate connection to the track, conveying the mortal danger that we find ourselves in. It’s a faster paced track with pulsating drumming. The synth riffs aren’t dwarfed in any way, they are giants among mere mortals.
“Power of the Laser Dragon Fire” has a fire breathing, frenetic opening, with the band linking arms and thrashing forward to face an elusive foe. There’s some laser sharp guitar work down the fret board in this track and the lyrics again borrow from every epic tale ever written, or uttered under the cover of darkness deep in the earth.
“Legendary Enchanted Jetpack” rockets forward (surely, you knew that was coming). The structured staccato of this track is engineered by gigantic beetles bred specially for this purpose. The track’s synthed horns and arrangement gives such an illusion of flight that I had to grasp my chair.
“Gloryhammer” thunders open with an absolutely god-like riff and a chant that will surely summon ancient benign spectres when screamed during concerts. “GLORY! HAMMER!” It’s heavy metal inspired and included a laser powered goblin smasher. I. Kid. You. Not. The band really nailed the guitar solos, adding much texture to the tale.
“Hootsforce” is another fast excursion towards the looming battle to save us all. It is all of the mottos of the Hootsforce and leaves no doubt that we must fight for glory, for power, for our lives, for the king… But, we live to fight. We LOVE to fight. Tinkling synths make an appearance to sprinkle ability augmenting dust for all participants.
“Battle for Eternity” focuses squarely on the final defender, the one brave soul that will either save or doom us all. The lyrics are masterfully comical and they pull everything that has gone before together, to expertly tighten the tension. The urgency is further enhanced by the emotion charged synth riffs and intense bass. The rhythm guitars and lead guitar overlays are surely written by wizards, adding health and magical powers for the final battle.
We enter “The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny” as the forces of justice, after passing dead eagles, accompanied by an orchestra. For the next 12 minutes we are chided for our pathetic display of valour, but confident in our status as heroes and that we are sure that this evil reign of terror will end today. There are 5 components to the track, all with different characters. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say, it is bittersweet, like a potion brewed by a well-meaning, but somewhat inept, glacial witch. As the track finishes, there is an intriguing set of events. Must. Not. Spoil. It. For. You.
Because this is a parody, the temptation is to not take this work seriously. But, do this at your extreme peril – the members of this band have serious talent. Their musicianship is excellent and the mixing of the tracks is spellbinding. Thomas Laszlo Winkler’s vocals are outstanding – his delivery and range is impressive.
The album’s pace doesn’t slow – like all epic battles, it is a long, steadfast struggle. Like all tales, it has so many twists and turns it would tie a dragon’s neck into a granny knot that would require a hero’s sword to cleave in two. Like all monumental adventures, the ending leaves us somewhat relieved, saddened and perplexed.
However, the lyrics are often the stars, as their grandly ridiculous nature had me hanging off every one to see what would be conjured up next.
It is an epic tale.
And, that Jetpack…
Review by Greg Noble