It was little more than a year ago that long running German power metal enthusiasts, Edguy, released Space Police – Defenders of the Crown. Now, in 2015, Gloryhammer is here with their own take on space battle. Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is symphonic power metal that will inevitably get under your skin. Annoyingly so. Like a rash you can’t scratch. What begins as a tongue-in-cheek soon turns into a tension filled, nail-biting journey. The album is, simply put, a blast. OH WHAT WILL BECOME OF OUR SPACE HEROES!?
Fantasy driven metal is nothing to be ashamed of. Aside from the legions of Lord of the Rings themed bands (to whom I have no disrespect as Tolkein is God) Visigoth proved that it’s cool, well maybe not cool, but at least fun, to roll your twenty-sided dice and command “Lothar the Ranger, Son of Bordübrath the Brave” in your Dungeons & Dragons quest. Sort of a ‘choose your own adventure’ fantasy (although sometimes controlled by the wickedest of Dungeon Masters). Gloryhammer does not shy away from their own love of fantasy. In fact, the entire album is a continuation of their earlier tale which initially unraveled on their 2013 release Tales From the Kingdom of Fife. The story is now better produced, edited more cleanly and an overall more consistently enjoyable experience.
There is only one band that stops the chaos wizards. No other band could possibly summon the the space cajones to raise the Astral Hammer and smite the wizards that are terrorizing the universe. Whether bouncing along in the more didactic and swinging tracks or the more forward, fast paced “Questlords of Inverness Ride to the Galactic Fortress,” Gloryhammer’s dedication and inability to break character is astonishing.
To produce such a work of historically futuristic campiness effectively the band must be talented. Paul Templing effortlessly soaring through astronomically powerful guitar solos like astral laser guns bursting through nebulae. Ben Turk (drums) and James Cartwright (bass) keep about as tight a rhythm section as you could hope for. Christopher Bowes reveals, especially on “Victorious Eagle Warfare” (Tolkien?) that his keyboard chops are nothing of the annoyingly harsh late Ray Manzarek. Finally, vocalist Thomas Winkler is perfect. His magnificent clarity, range, rolling r’s and unabashed dedication to the storyline triumphantly lead the way. Although it may be kicking and screaming, you will end up following him high into the skies to do battle with the Chaos Wizards. And why not? Who doesn’t want to follow Unicorns to the crystal palace?
Since late January I have been hailing 2015 as the return of power metal. But for a few months, almost nothing promising was released. I was forlorn. Lost. Luckily, to my utter surprise, Gloryhammer have allowed me to climb back up on that soapbox and proclaim once again, 2015 is the rebirth of power metal! Clearly Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is beyond just a bit cheesy. It’s gloriously cheesy. So cheesy that you can revel in the storytelling, extreme campiness and quite excellent musicianship.