Gloryhammer – Tales from the Kingdom of Fife (Napalm Records)

Sunday, 7th April 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

Musicians today diversify their output based on a wide array of personal tastes. Let’s face it: we only have a short time on this earth, so why not put the energy to productive use and squeeze out as much creative ideas as possible? Alestorm keyboardist/vocalist Christopher Bowes explores his epic power and symphonic metal desires with this new act Gloryhammer, and the first salvo Tales from the Kingdom of Fife is an entertaining journey, filled with happy chorus hooks, syncopated keyboard/ guitar riffing and harmonies and all-around entertainment.

An immediate requirement for acceptance into the legions of power metal fans is a high-octane vocal presence, which Emerald singer Thomas Winkler fulfills ardently. Tackling a story based on an alternate history in medieval Scotland, prepare your ears for bouncy Rhapsody-like keyboard segments, moments of blitzkrieg guitar and drum bombast and wondrous imaginative titles like “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” and “Beneath Cowdenbeath.”

The musicians of Gloryhammer fluctuate between mid-tempo anthems in a Powerwolf meets Manowar manner like “Hail to Crail” and “Quest for the Hammer of Glory” and then shift into overdrive for the pure speed adrenaline rush of a Dragonforce-like “Amulet of Justice.” Guitarist Paul Templing and drummer Ben Turk deliver the right amount of technique and complimentary hooks, shining with cultural intensity on the 10 minute-plus closer “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder” that features background female choir melodies.

Metal and fantasy are perfect bedfellows when it comes to European power/symphonic metal – and Gloryhammer live for all the expected clichés with this debut album. Convincing execution equals a very good 49 minute record; a template that should go over magnificently to fans of this genre.

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