Reviews list for Gloryhammer - Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex (2019)
I've always thought that Power Metal is one of the most important genres in metal. Amidst the brutal, death laden, austere compositions of various genres of metal, Power Metal showcases the simpler things in life: pirates drinking rum, countless references to Lord of the Rings and other fantasy landmarks, and, in Gloryhammer's case, over the top science fiction. I'm of the belief that metal as a whole takes itself a little too seriously sometimes, so albums like Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex help to balance out that seriousness with their tales of inter-dimensional travel, galactic conquest, and jet-packs made of "cosmic steel". Power Metal can a silly, over the top, cheesy as hell genre for sure, but learning to wield that cheese like an all-powerful enchanted hammer can lead to something that's extremely enjoyable and entertaining.
The music itself is standard power metal fare with extra steps taken to ensure a lofty, more cheese filled experience, but Gloryhammer hits all the clichés boldly and with confidence. The tempos are high, the drums are driving, the guitar lines are assuredly similar to every other power metal album you've heard, and the orchestra and synths add that comical final layer to the epic space fantasy. Gloryhammer's vocalist does a great job with what he's given, and manages to make even the silliest of lines sound sincere. That being said, the names they've decided to go with are still hilarious, with Angus McFife being part of the Hootsforce (Hail Hoots) fighting the evil Zargothrax. Whether that adds or takes away from the album is up to you, but Gloryhammer pulls it off better than other similar bands.
As silly as it is, what makes Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex stand out is the story. In my experience, a lot of these sort of albums like to pretend their telling a story but most of the album is nonsensical and not cohesive in the slightest. Gloryhammer does a fantastic job of actually telling a story that has a beginning, middle, and end, and follows normal storytelling metrics. Amazing what happens when you put a little bit of effort into world-building and have your songs outline events in chronological order. The story is also easily understood with the very first listen, which is another huge plus. Legends From Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex isn't a marvel of storytelling and most of these ideas have been done before, I still have to give it credit for successfully building a compelling world with somewhat compelling plot elements. Listening to this has really made me want to go and listen to their first two albums to get the full story.
This is just an incredibly fun album through and through. If you can get past the cheese and nerdiness, there's great Power Metal songwriting and performances on pretty much every track. Although I have nothing but praise for this album, it's still another formulaic Power Metal album that is a little too silly for its own good. So, as a critic, I have to give it a lower score than what it's probably worth. As a metal music listener, though, I'm going to be recommending this for quite a while.
"HOOTS!!!" What's that? Is it an owl?! Is it a torpedo?!? No, it's...the Hootsman!! Previously, in the Gloryhammer saga, he had to sacrifice Earth in an alternate universe to foil the plans of the evil wizard Zargothrax who escaped through a wormhole, with the heroic warrior prince Angus McFife following him, into another alternate universe of who-knows-where. Wherever they end up and whatever happens shall be found out in this continuation of an ongoing epic saga!
I can't believe I waited shy of 4 years for this offering since first listening to their first two albums (with this third one being released in the middle of this 4-year period). Well, with my small return to the earlier epic metal taste, I'm ready to take on more of this band's catchy melodies and cool lyrics in a sci-fantasy story arc. Expect more HOOTS!!!
"Into the Terrorvortex of Kor-Virliath" is the intro that perfectly indicates the epic power metal that will soon come in immense talent. Then "The Siege of Dunkeld" bursts in with melody and drama out of nowhere. That first song sounds so climatic, even in just the first few minutes of the album. It's so good! The album tone is set with the song's fast tempo and the semi-bad grammar of their battle-cry, "An epic war is fight!" (Is that kinda like, "The action is go"??) Brilliant song from this Anglo-Swiss epic metal band! The voice of Angus McFife, Thomas Winkler, shines with his vocals in "Masters of the Galaxy", especially when his voice goes higher than you would expect at the end. Incredible!! The rest of the band is fantastic as well. "The Land of Unicorns" is also memorable, especially the keyboard/guitar dueling solo between Christopher Bowes ("Dark Lord Zargothrax") (also the founding vocalist/keyboardist of Alestorm) and Paul Templing ("Grandmaster Proletius").
There are majestic choruses in "Power of the Laser Dragon Fire", which the song itself reminds me of Rhapsody of Fire gone Sonata Arctica. Then the "Legendary Enchanted Jetpack" will have you soaring high through the song (Get it? Jetpack?? Soaring??? LOL). Track 7, the band's "theme", "Gloryhammer" gives metal the chug it needs.
The whole "third-to-last track sound more electronic" motive continues with "Hootsforce", this time with Alestorm-like vibe in the melody. "Battle for Eternity" also has lighter melody in a poppy approach, along with a keyboard solo by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius). Then we end the journey with the band's longest song, the 12-and-a-half-minute epic "The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny", the perfect conclusion to both the album and the story within. It holds way more than the epic finales they've done in their first two albums. This stellar epic is split into 5 parts; the despair-ridden "Dundaxian Overture", the hopeful "Battle of Cowdenbeath", the victorious "Return of the Astral Demigod of Unst", the tragic "Knife of Evil", and...a "Transmission" of a Morse-code message, with old-school computer noises and all.
All in all, Gloryhammer still have both the intensity and...the cheese. The more serious metalheads might turn this album down due to all the "nerdy fantasy" and "sh*tty Latin references", but despite having too much entertaining comedy, the plot is still legible. Who needs the pompous emotion of female-led bands such as Ancient Bards and Pythia with their new albums released in 2019, when Gloryhammer can blast you through lightyears into an alternate reality accompanied by symphonic power/speed metal? This funny yet epic Scottish tale has been referred by the band as "THE greatest power metal album of all time", and they might be right; this is a perfect winning nominee!
Favorites: "The Siege of Dunkeld", "The Land of Unicorns", "Power of the Laser Dragon Fire", "Gloryhammer", "Battle for Eternity", "The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny"