Listening to a Gloryhammer album is like watching one of those cheesy but brilliant straight to video sci-fi movie trailers from the 1980s. You know, the ones which always seemed to begin with the same overly dramatic, gravel-throated narrator proclaiming, “it was a time of heroes”, or “it was a time of war”. Well, whereas those movies generally struggled to do justice to their wildly optimistic advertising campaigns, Gloryhammer pretty much guarantees maximum enjoyment every time. Continue reading
With everyone firmly into the swing of things by now, Saturday’s main stage openers Nailed to Obscurity opened proceedings strongly enough but were promptly blown out of the water by one of the major surprises of the festival – Power Trip. A combination of thrash and early death metal, the Texan act were a blur of riffs and speed, whipping up the early afternoon crowd into an explosive cyclone of energy. Continue reading
For you uninitiated, Alestorm is what us pirate loving, rum swilling, sing-a-long hullabalooers listen to. Their newest disk is No Grave But The Sea (Napalm). To be sure, there is some nifty metal and folk music happening here. Alestorm is fun and competent, and that’s a dangerous combination! No Grave But The Sea is Alestorm’s sixth full length album and, in fact, another winner in the pirate metal album genre. Continue reading
Gloryhammer are a Swiss/Scottish five piece, founded by Alestorm‘s Christopher Bowes. Referring to themselves as “Heroic Fantasy Power Metal Warriors”, they write songs like ‘The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee’, they have a drummer called Ralathor, the Mysterious Hermit of Cowdenbeath, and are quite clearly madder than a sack of badgers.
Most importantly though, Gloryhammer are also ridiculously entertaining. If you somehow manage to listen to new album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards (Napalm) without grinning like an idiot all the way through it, then quite simply, you’re getting Metal wrong.
Opening with ‘Infernus Ad Astra’, quite possibly the most Star Trek introduction ever, the story (of course there’s a story) begins in the distant future of 1992 and war, as always seems to be the case in science fiction, has returned to the galaxy. Apparently, it’s been 1000 years since Angus McFife defeated the evil Sorcerer Zargothrax in the battle of Dunfermline, but now a cult of unholy chaos wizards are planning to release Zargothrax and unleash him upon the universe again.
The absolute bastards.
The album kicks off properly with ‘Rise of the Chaos Wizards’, a song which not only pumps the purest Rhapsody of Fire blood furiously through its veins, but also happens to be better than anything either incarnation of that band have produced since going their separate ways. ‘Legend of the Astral Hammer’ follows with its fierce and manly True Metal chorus – stupidly simple and twice as catchy, you’ll be striding around your house, chest out and holding an invisible tankard of ale, singing it for days. The Rhapsody worship returns on the brilliant ‘Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy’, and ‘The Hollywood Hootsman’ has another one of those choruses which you’ll keep in your head far longer than is medically recommended. ‘Victorious Eagle Warfare’ sounds like Iron Maiden and Stratovarius went to a keyboard party at Judas Priest‘s house. ‘Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress!’ will make you sing its daft lyrics out loud and in public, and the fast, pulsing rhythm of ‘Universe on Fire’ will have you dancing in your seat like a deranged gibbon. ‘Heroes (of Dundee)’ is nice and straightforward, and the lengthy and melodramatic ‘Apocalypse 1992’ finishes the story off in the manner you’d wish for, with gravel-throated narration, jabbing and swirling keyboards, mighty riffs, and lines such as “like tears of a unicorn lost in the rain, chaos will triumph this day”. The album is rounded off by instrumental ‘Dundax Aeterna’ and the first thing you’ll want to do after it finishes is go back and to the beginning and start the whole thing up again.
If you want your Power Metal to be original or innovative, then you’re in the wrong place. Gloryhammer don’t just wear their influences on their sleeve, they have them emblazoned across battle armour, embroidered over wizards robes and branded onto unicorns arses.
Faster than a laser bullet indeed.
Scotland’s favourite purveyors of Pirate Metal, Alestorm, have once again sailed into port with a new album, Sunset on the Golden Age (Napalm). Keeping a shtick going after four albums is no easy task, but Alestorm do a fair job at showing there’s some life in the old sea dog yet.
Captained by Christopher Bowes (vocals & keytar) and his merry crew (Dani Evans – guitars, Gareth Murdock – bass, Elliot Vernon – keyboards and Peter Alcorn – drums), Alestorm have always had their critics and with Sunset on the Golden Age they’ve made an album that shows them at their best and worst.
The album’s lead single ‘Drink’ is the typical feel-good shanty you expect from the band with lyrics about alcohol, folky tones and shout-a-long choruses, it’s addictively catchy and good fun. Other early tracks such as ‘Walk The Plank’ and ‘Magnetic North’ are great, combining those folk elements with bombastic horns resulting in some of the most energetic music they’ve made in a while. Back Through Time‘s ‘Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid’ showed that the band could mix their Rum & Cutlass style with serious musical chops, and there’s a couple of moments on where they show the same of musical aspirations here.
The self-titled closing track is an ambitious 11-minute beast, while ‘1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)’ is easily the musical highpoint. A seven-minute multi-part epic, it shows the band have more to offer than gimmicks and can compete with the likes of Turisas and Korpiklaani when they want to. Sadly it’s mostly downhill from here.
‘Wooden Leg’ is a short sharp thrust of hardcore punk given a pirate makeover, while tracks such as ‘Surf Squid Warfare’ and ‘Mead from Hell’ add almost thrash elements to mix. While they aren’t terrible, they don’t stand up to the focus and quality of the first half of the record. Alestorm have a history of cheesy pop covers, and, depending on your point of view, their latest cover of Taio Cruz’s ‘Hangover’ is either a genius or downright awful. Horribly catchy, but sounding like a Nu-Metal meets Ibiza pop song, it’s completely at musical odds with the rest of the album but no doubt destined to become a sing along classic.
Though enjoyable, Sunset on the Golden Age is a mixed affair. It swings from high quality booty to Pirates of the Caribbean-esque clichés and cheap jokes, and generally lacks cohesion or consistency, much like a rum-soaked pirate in many respects. It won’t change your view on the band, but if you liked previous jaunts, this could just be the ship for you.