This is the kind of music I can’t make up. It’s just too much, and yet for me, it’s just right. Of all of the album I’ve reviewed to that point in 2015, this was without a doubt the most niche of them all. Even so, I know several of you will appreciate and even love this album. This is the symphonic power metal band, Gloryhammer, with their sophomore album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. It’s sci-fi fantasy comedy genius, really. It’s tongue firmly in cheek, and you’ll know what I mean when you see the video for the main single below. Even if you don’t read any further than this paragraph, do me a favor and watch the music video. It’s without a doubt one of the funniest music videos I’ve seen this year. In fact, this may be the funniest music video I’ve seen since Jettblack’s Raining Rock. I’m sure there were other great ones since then, but I can’t think of any right now. Take my word for it. There are wild costumes, silly special effects, and enough cheese to make the squid guy from Rocko’s Modern Life happy. In case you don’t get that reference, because it’s a deep one, refresh your memory with this video:
Anyways, the cheesiness of this music is not lost on me. Some of you classic/traditional metalheads may go into this album trying to take it seriously, but that’s the absolute wrong approach. If you do listen to it, go in with an open mind and try to follow the ludicrous story with all of the different characters. Basically, in the future world of 1992, an evil space wizard has been freed from an ice prison (watch the video) and tries to wreck havoc on the universe. The main character of the story is related to the main character of Gloryhammer’s first album, Angus McFife (and his name is Angus McFife XIII), and a battle across space and time takes place. I don’t know how else to describe it other than a demons and wizards sci-fi battle metal opera. That’s a tough description to picture, but if you actually do listen to the album, you will understand.
One of the most remarkable things about this album is that the members embrace the inherent cheese of all that is power metal and symphonic power metal, and take it to another level. They know that the music is in itself silly and over the top, so why not kick it up a notch? I don’t know if it’s possible to be taking a parody album seriously, but this isn’t just goofy and whatever. This is finely crafted and surprisingly well put together. It’s a wild story with silly characters and metal mania, but it’s really great music. You can really feel the love from these guys if you listen to the second half of the double album. The first half is the story, from start to finish. The second half is an orchestral reimagination of the first half, with a full symphony and a choir for a few tracks. They take the guitars, most of the percussion, and the vocals out of the album, and the result is shocking. They used a little more keyboard than they needed to, but otherwise it’s a fun orchestral album which shows yet again that the prog/power rock and metal that I enjoy so much takes its roots unquestionably in classical music.
I know the two tracks tell very different parts of the story with little to no connection between the two, but that’s the tough part about trying to give someone a glimpse of a concept album. If you take a track from the album, it will largely be out of context since its story is rarely resolved in the single track. Therefore, it’s just one step along the journey, but it’s the best I can do. Plus, I can’t imagine many of you will want to sit down and jam through this album for 50 minutes or however long it lasts. For those of you that do, well done. This album is worth the listen, if nothing else to see just how over the top this music can be without sounding annoying. I mean we have power chords and double bass drumming while a choir sings along in highlight tracks like Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress! The exclamation point is important, because this is one of the tracks that takes it to the extreme. By extreme, obviously I don’t mean extreme metal (like the new Deafheaven album, but I don’t have the heart to go into that). It’s so dramatic with soaring vocals and guitar solos and everything you could hope for and more. Some people equate this band to a comedy Dragonforce, but Dragonforce plays too fast and is more speed than power metal, but I can see some similarities. The fantasy themes are familiar, but again, they don’t really have space battles with chaos wizards, do they? If they do in their most recent album (I admit I’ve fallen off with them lately), my bad.
I wish I had other tracks to provide you, but the other decent youtube tracks are all low bitrate and sound cruddy. Since this review was written in 2015, there have been a couple full album copies on Youtube, but I’m not going to post an unauthorized track or full album. If you look around on the internet, you can easily find the entirety of the album if you are so inclined. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a very niche album, so I don’t blame you if you skip this review and wait for next week. If you did make it this far, I appreciate you reading this and I hope you enjoy the album as much as I did. I don’t have any more superlatives for it, and I don’t have too much more to say about it other than with tracks like “Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy” and “Legend of the Astral Hammer”, the album practically explains itself. It’s beautiful insanity. I happily give this album 13 RUs out of 15. It’s so crazy and over the top that it works. It was just what I needed.