Why do fantasy metal bands all have names that sound like fantasy metal bands? Nightwish, Amberian Dawn, Elvenking, Secret Sphere, and now we can add Gloryhammer to the list, joining Warhammer and Hammerfall in the subsection of metal bands names after hardware and abstract nouns.
I was recommended this album by a man whose beard demands respect and as such I am sort of wary about disappointing him with my opinions because ,although this album is a fun listen, it’s not really that different to what little fantasy metal I’ve heard over the years.
What this album does do very well is make me smile from ear to ear, something metal hasn’t done since I stopped listening to Sabaton when THE WINGED HUSSARS ARRIVED!! first full track on the album is called and starts with the singer blurting out ‘The Unicorn invasion of Dundee’. If that sentence does not make you a) smile and b) wonder why the unicorns are so angry at Scotland then you need checking. The story behind the song is that the evil wizard Zargothrax rode into the once mighty city of Dundee atop an undead unicorn of war. I will never write a sentence better. Noodly grand guitar solos, operatic backing vocals, harpsichord on the keys, and the double bass pedal going mad, it’s pure, unadulterated and unashamed power metal.
The rest of the album is all along that vein, battles and magic and mythology. It’s a fun, a slightly strange and wonderful listen, but a fun one all the same. My only criticism is that it sounds so similar to so much other fantasy metal – but that’s a problem across the whole genre and across a lot of metal in general (usually awful metal whereas genre metal is by it’s nature more pigeonholed), so I can’t really hold that too firmly against Gloryhammer. It doesn’t help that the lead vocalist is the front-man of Alestorm too, which explains a degree of the familiarity.
The other track that made me very happy is simply called Wizards! and I think the exclamation mark is what truly won me over – like the song it really excited. The song itself is mad ode of love to DnD wizards and their lore. It’s joyous. The whole chorus is just them belting out wiiiiiiizaaaaards! It’s glorious, silly metal fun.
Fun album, added it to my metal playlists because there are things in there that made me smile – but it’s still very much one of the many samey albums.
Now we’ve done lots of rock so far, so let’s bring it down a bit…