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Album Reviews : Gloryhammer – Tales from the Kingdom of Fife

By on December 4, 2013

603239_385629761473501_204425449_nGloryhammer, the name alone sparks images of glorious cheese laden epicness. Here we have what can only be described as a breath of fresh air in the epic power metal genre. In an age where heavy metal music takes itself too seriously at times, in comes Gloryhammer, a band who aren’t ashamed to have a good time and parade their cheesy influences proudly with the likes of HammerFall, Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonland and Blind Guardian on their shiny plated armour. Gloryhammer have reignited my passion for power metal with their fantastically cheesy debut release, ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’.

Christopher Bowes, the mastermind behind Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm, plus vocalist Thomas Winkler of Swiss metal band Emerald, along with guitarist Paul Templing, bassist James Cartwright and drummer Ben Turk, have joined forces and conjured up nerdy images of an unlikely hero, unicorns, dragons, epic battles and a princess held captive by an evil wizard. Set in an alternative history of Scotland, the story plays out like every other epic fantasy. Our epic hero, Angus Mcfife, wages an epic battle with the evil wizard Zargothrax, fighting to free his people from the oppressing wizard and bring peace to the city of Dundee.

Setting the tone of the album is the opening track “Anstruther’s Dark Prophecy”, a heroic fanfare and one amazing introduction which slowing builds tension as we prepare ourselves for the epic battle ahead. Enter, “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee”. With galloping drums and guitars, along with cheesy soaring vocals, it’s hard not to feel you’re part of the action, wielding a mighty weapon, battling undead unicorns alongside our noble hero, Angus Mcfife. Thomas Winkler, a virtually unknown vocalist in the metal world until recently, has one of the the most versatile voices. His vocals blend extremely well with the furious attack of guitars, drums and keyboards. Tying the knot to a musical match made in heaven.

With no sign of slowing down we gather our wares and continue on our epic quest with the track “Angus Mcfife”. Catchy melodies and fist pumping choruses continue to be injected into our veins, demanding us water to calm our weary vocal chords from screaming mighty lyrics and an ice pack to sooth our tense arms from constantly punching the air with all our might.  This is something Gloryhammer do extremely well. The album is amazingly catchy and upbeat. Giving you all the more reason to pump your fists in the air and sing at the top of your lungs.

The next tracks “Quest for the Hammer of Glory” and “Magic Dragon” continue the ravenous musical assault with plenty of galloping drums, soaring speedy guitars and neo classical keyboards. However, this all comes to a complete halt with the album’s first, and only ballad “Silent Tears of Frozen Princess”. It’s another great example of vocalist Thomas Winkler, utilising his fantastic vocal talents alongside Marie Lorey, a guest musician who compliments the song nicely with her soft and soulful voice.

With no time to rest we’re hurled back into battle with “Amulet of Justice”. This was one of the first song’s which got my attention of Gloryhammer and still is one of my favorites. The song emulates a certain Dragonforce quality with its whiny guitar work and inspirational chorus. Yet another fine example of the band’s great musicianship and influences which trinkle throughout the album without blatantly ripping off certain big names in power metal or boring us with repetition. “Hail to Crail” is an impressive number which boasts an epic backdrop of mighty trumpets, horns and a heroic chorus sing-a-long. “Beneath Cowdenbeath”, prepares us for the conclusion of this epic tale with guitarist, Paul Templing’s instrumental influence of Luca Turilli’s guitar wankery and Christopher Bowes’ keyboard wizardry.

As we reach the final track “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder”, you can’t help but feel empowered. The epic 10 minute masterpiece screams cheese! I can’t help but imagine cheese oozing out my speakers every time this song is played at full volume. A solid blend of melody and instrumental pieces, held tightly together by Thomas Winkler and Marie Lorey’s amazing vocal talents. It is just epic! Something I noticed during the 7 minute mark of the song is a short harp piece similar to “Prelude”, taken from Final Fantasy VII. It’s probably just coincidence, but adds great contrast to the song.

The final song it a fitting end to an amazing album. For those fortunate enough to see the band live you would be well aware that every member of the band represents a character throughout the album’s story in a tongue-in-cheek stereotypical fashion, appearing on stage in armour and lavish costumes. This is something more power metal bands need to do. Don’t just settle for a puffy shirt or a nice pair of pantaloons. If you’re going to write cheese, then go all out and do it right!

For those completest and metal elitist out there. Gloryhammer released a limited edition of the album which includes a bonus track “Wizards!”. Continuing the band’s tradition of speed and heroic laden lyrics, all relating to wizards no less.

The album has a great balance of melody and speed, yet is heavily outweighed by the latter. I’m completely fine with this as I love my epic power metal fast, upbeat with plenty of cheesy lyrics to make me feel empowered. Gloryhammer have set the bar for epic power metal with their debut release. The band have created the perfect blend of soaring vocals, speed metal guitars, galloping drums and heavy keyboards to make a genre defining masterpiece.

Band: Gloryhammer
Album: Tales from the Kingdom of Fife
Year: 2013
Genre: Epic Power Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Origin: British/Swiss

Tracklisting:
1.  Anstruther’s Dark Prophecy
2. The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee
3. Angus McFife
4. Quest for the Hammer of Glory
5. Magic Dragon
6. Silent Tears of Frozen Princess
7. Amulet of Justice
8. Hail to Crail
9. “Beneath Cowdenbeath
10. The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder

About

Anwar is the editor-in chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook