People may say my tastes in music and film are “nerdy” or “geeky,” and when I show people that I listen to Gloryhammer, I can see why.
Gloryhammer is a Scottish-Swiss ¨power metal¨ band, consisting of Thomas Winkler as the vocalist, Christopher Bowes on keys, Paul Templing on guitar, James Cartwright on bass, and Ben Turk on percussion/drums. In order for me to review their music for you, though, you need to understand what “power metal” is. Allow me to explain: when a person reads J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings series, they feel as if they are transported to another world, full of mystic fantasy and epic tales of heroes beyond our world. Gloryhammer´s music is kind of like an audiobook of those kinds of stories, following a consistent plot line through all of their songs and albums.
For some people, this may be a turn-off when listening to it. The lyrics aren’t “deep” or “relatable,” but that’s what I love about it. It is simply cheesy, but in the best way possible. The music always feels as if it should be played behind a huge battle scene in a movie, with huge forces of good and evil battling for world domination. It will not appeal to people who try to listen to music to relate to, but it will to those who use music as an escape. Sure, your every day life will still be the same boring, tiresome work that you have to deal with, but you can use this kind of music to take away from that.
Gloryhammer, at the time of this article’s writing, has only released 2 albums: Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife, and Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards. The songs follow a plot which I will attempt to summarize briefly: The tale begins on a lovely day in Dundee, a city within the Kingdom of Fife, when suddenly an evil wizard named Zargothrax (try not to laugh too hard at his name) rides into the city upon an ¨undead unicorn of war¨ while other unicorns also attack alongside him. He besieges the city and dethrones the prince, Angus McFife (it only gets cheesier from here, guys). McFife then swears revenge, and searches for ancient artifacts which will allow him to defeat the wizard. One of these artifacts is the “Gloryhammer” (self insertion much, guys?), which McFife sets off for, along with a Magic Dragon and some mystical amulet. He then allies himself with the Knights of Crail, and rides the Magic Dragon into battle against the evil wizard. Along the way, he’s also joined by the Barbarian Warrior of Unst, who fights along side him. Eventually, Prince McFife finally strikes down the wizard, as he falls into “liquid ice” (quick little tangent/rant: do you guys not know what the liquid form of ice is? It’s water. So it would make sense if Zargothrax drowned, right? But instead, he freezes upon touching it. I think what they meant to say was “liquid nitrogen,” as that can freeze someone upon contact, but no, they call it liquid ice. However, the lyrics say “the evil wizard falls to doom and drowns in liquid ice,” even though they later say his immortal body is encased in a “cage of eternal frost.” Did he drown, or did he freeze? WHICH IS IT?!) and then saves the kingdom of Fife by freeing the unicorns from their spell of undeath. That’s the story of the first album, however the second album only makes it crazier.
So the second album says that the year is now 1992, centuries after the story told in Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife, only it’s a futuristic 1992. Zargothrax’s frozen body is currently on the moon Triton, guarded by the Space Knights of Crail (the same order from the original album, just now they’re in space). However, everything seems to go to hell, as suddenly an attack is made on the fortress of Triton. These “Chaos Wizards” are a cult devoted to freeing Zargothrax from the ice so he can finally reclaim the throne of Fife. The descendant of the original Angus McFife, Angus McFife XIII, prepares his forces to battle against the demonic horde. Zargothrax searches for the Goblin King, who gives the wizard a crystal key to unlock a “Chaos Portal to the Galactic Nexus,” which will unleash the elder god Kor-Viliath onto the Galaxy. Sound confusing? It is. The second album’s story is much less coherent in comparison, most likely due to the fact that the names are inhuman and there are two narrators who are very conflicting. One Narrator is using a distorted voice and is speaking more aggressively, while the other is the singer actually singing the story. Problem is, the two tend to swap roles extremely often. One second the distorted voice will represent Zargothrax, but the next second it will be representing the forces of good. It’s confusing and actually leads me to favor the original album. Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards is a mess. The story continues on, with McFife XIII allying himself with the Hollywood Hootsman, the Space Knights of Crail, and the Questlords of Inverness. Sound familiar? It’s the exact same plot as the first album, only now it’s in space. Also, the final track “Apocalypse 1992” leads to what is essentially one of the worst endings in the album. Hootsman flies to earth, blows himself and the planet up to stop Zargothrax, only for Zargothrax to fly through the black hole that Hootsman has created and Angus McFife XIII gives chase, ending the song.
The story is nonsensical. If you want to listen to Gloryhammer, do it for the music. The orchestral background being pushed forward along with electric instruments is simply amazing to listen to. The drums aren’t too loud or obnoxious, they’re easy on the ears while still driving the music. Also, don’t listen to them live. Thomas Winkler is great on the album, but sounds like a prepubescent boy with the amount of voice cracks he has on stage. Overall, I’d give this band and their two albums a 7/10. They’re perfectly average, but in the best way. You won’t hate them, but if you’re like me you won’t absolutely love them either. There are too many problems in their music and lyrics for it to be amazing, but it’s still pretty good.