Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards
Release Date: September 25, 2015
Frankly I’m at a loss as to how to begin reviewing Gloryhammer’s sophomore release Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. There’s just so much going on here that, when taken at face value seems rather absurd. Let me just let the band’s official statement taken from their web site start things off:
“In the distant future of the year 1992...war has returned to the galaxy. One thousand years have passed since the brave hero Angus McFife defeated the evil sorcerer Zargothrax in the battle of Dunfermline, trapping the wizard in a frozen prison of liquid ice. But now, a cult of unholy chaos wizards are plotting to release their dark master from his ice-bound tomb and once again unleash the sorcerer Zargothrax upon the universe. The tragic destiny of the Galactic Empire of Fife now hangs in the balance once more...”
So, this album is a direct conceptual successor to their 2013 debut Tales from the Kingdom of Fife which told the tale of Angus McFife , prince of the land of Dundee, and his epic confrontation with the evil wizard Zargothrax and his army of undead unicorns. Yes. Undead unicorns.
I know what you’re thinking. “This is absolutely preposterous. I don’t have time for this sort of outlandish fantasy storytelling. I just want to hear songs about drinking beer.” Firstly let me say that Gloryhammer’s founding member, keyboardist Christopher Bowes, is probably best known for being the frontman and primary songwriter for pirate metal band Alestorm which was just as outlandish, but with many many references to drinking. The great thing about Alestorm was not only was it fun, but it was also phenomenally enjoyable music. And that’s the same thing you’re getting here with Gloryhammer. This is first and foremost power metal. At it’s finest in fact. Galloping rhythms, shredding guitars, soaring vocals, and the amazing keyboard work of Bowes, who’s songwriting skills, regardless of lyrical content, are beyond reproach. You want catchy hooks and sing along choruses? Well you’ve come to the right space port laddie!
The album opens with a short spoken word and instrumental intro and just blasts into hyperdrive with “Rise of the Chaos Wizards” which is so amazingly energetic and power-metally as to give an old jaded reviewer such as myself goosebumps. If you’re not nodding your head or tapping your feet during the chorus then I’m sorry friend but you may have to call a coroner because you could be dead. The album continues with symphonic power metal battle hymns such as “Victorious Eagle Warfare” and “Legend of the Astral Hammer” which contains the lyrics ‘Legend of the Astral Hammer, Forged in the heart of celestial fire, Powered by lasers entwined in a star, crystal enchantment of steel’. It’d be laughable if they did not execute it in such a sincere manner. They’re obviously not above tongue in cheek behavior, as evidenced by the exclamation point which is actually part of the song title “Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress!” but you simply cannot doubt the seriousness of the music they craft. Things remain a high energy straight forward power metal until the oddball track “Universe on Fire”, which is synth heavy and nearly comes off sounding like electronica. It’s a bit out of place but still a thoroughly enjoyable track.
The music on this album is just cranked to 11 and then there’s the storyline, which is so outlandish, so over the top, so balls to the wall, as to surpass absurdity and shoot all the way to the other side of epic. It’s like Dungeon’s and Dragon’s meets Flash Gordon. We’re talking space travel, wizards, and mighty warriors vying against dragons of steel and rampaging hordes of goblins on the dark side of the moon. It’s understandable that upon hearing this information you might think it’s all one big joke, perhaps satire or parody like Spinal Tap. But you have to hear it to believe it. These guys are putting not only their exemplary musical skills on display but are also imbuing the album with an infectious and deeply felt level of emotion and passion. This is no joke. This is serious business. Seriously awesome power metal. If you can handle the occasional theatrical voice-over à la Rhapsody then you’ll find yourself one preposterously enjoyable album.
Reviewed by: Farron1340