GLORYHAMMER- Welcome To The Kingdom
Sometimes it pays to watch those “suggested” clips at the end of YouTube videos. Can’t quite remember which one it was that gave me the introduction to Gloryhammer, but whichever one it was, I’ve definitely got to give some props. All it took was twenty seconds of “Angus McFife” and my curiosity was peaked. I did a little research and found out that this band has another distinction, that being a secondary project of one Christopher Bowes (who also happens to be the captain of the good pirate ship Alestorm). Come to think of it, it might have been an Alestorm video that led into Gloryhammer- if so, definitely appropriate.
I watched the full video and wondered to myself, “Gee, if the first single sounds like this, what’s the rest of the album going to sound like?” So I acquired a copy of their debut CD and gave it a listen. It’s apparent right from the opening of “Anstruther’s Dark Prophecy” that this is going to be a tale woven from start to finish. Once the opening has set the stage, “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” hammers you hard. It begins recounting the tale of the mythical unicorns under the dastardly influence of the dark sorcerer Zargothrax running roughshod over the town of Dundee, and this is the opening salvo of a story that takes a few listens to really become coherent, but when it does, it’s an enjoyable ride.
“Angus McFife”, probably the most recognizable track to Gloryhammer fans, is the next one in the lineup, and this is the track where vocalist Thomas Winkler really allows himself to shine. Where “Unicorn” was fast-paced and in-your-face, this one calms down a little yet remains a solid up-tempo chugger. Bowes’ keyboards add an extra layer of majesty, yet instead of being overbearing, it plays well with the remainder of the band, adding that emphasis where necessary without wanting to be the lead.
“Quest For The Hammer Of Glory” (yes, these guys are known for their lengthy song titles) starts off with an almost epic feel and morphs into a good mid-tempo foot-tapper that details the quest of the hero (Angus) to find this mystical weapon that he will use to defeat Zargothrax once and for all. Very keyboard-heavy, and for this song it definitely fits. Those very same keyboards kick into a more frenetic pace on “Magic Dragon” and on this track, Bowes seems to be the star of the moment.
It’s now time for intermission (okay,the halfway point) and things slow down with “Silent Tears Of Frozen Princess”. Don’t expect that feeling of calm and serenity to last, because it kicks right back up to warpspeed with “Amulet Of Justice” , drops down to their more comfortable mid-tempo level and finishes strong with “The Epic Rage Of Furious Thunder”. Paul Templing’s guitar work really sizzles on this glorious finale,and the powerful rhythm section of Ben Turk and James Cartwright never misses a beat, regardless of what the song calls for. Full speed, middle gear, mellow, everyone is dead on.
Bottom line, this is a damn solid debut. It sets the stage for what is to come, and it’s an interesting story to boot. This is what symphonic power metal was meant to sound like.
I give this one an 8/10.