Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards (Napalm)Sunday, 4th October 2015
Because Alestorm is so successful, such side-project liberties as this are afforded. Gloryhammer is the creation of main Alestorm dude Christopher Bowes, where upon he takes a rather deep dive into the world of epic fantasy metal. Alas, this is what side projects are all about: Letting one’s hair done and digging into what is probably a sound held close to the heart for Bowes. As such, Gloryhammer is appropriately over-the-top, every bit as adventurous and sword-wielding as the cackle that has been coming from Europe the last few decades. With their sophomore Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, Bowes does vintage Rhapsody proud.
Not surprisingly, the orchestration across the album is quite top. Given Bowe’s innate ability to turn what essentially are pirate jigs into formidable, catchy metal songs, Gloryhammer is another extension of his compositional ability. Swiss vocalist Thomas Winkler (a relative unknown) proves to be a wise choice for Gloryhammer in this realm; clean vocals all the while, but hardly the ball-grabbing, sword-slashing style that power metal usually produces. Big ups on the double and triple-tracked vocals, some of which really steer cuts such as “Goblin King of the Dark Side Galaxy,” where you could imagine the always-dramatic Fabio Lione getting huffy and puffy.
Of course, there’s a very noticeable degree of camp and cheese that comes along with Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. Just the title alone may not bag the skeptical, but on the surface, this is carefree, cinematic, epic power metal. No deep meaning to songs like “The Hollywood Hootsman” or “Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress,” nor should there be. It’s not like Bowes is doing something different in his main band. You can bet your bottom dollar the Germans will lap this stuff up almost instantly. It’s tailor-made for that market all the way.