OK, let’s get this out of the way first – Gloryhammer aren’t just Alestorm for DragonForce fans. They’re genuinely great in their own right. I’m glad to report that Tales From The Kingdom of Fife wasn’t just a brilliant fluke. Space 1992 takes those tales of olden-era battles and blasts them into a scary, laser-filled future.
To borrow from a sci-fi legend, “Cheese factor ten, Mr Sulu.” Space 1992 is every bit as full of silly jokes, over-the-top battle metal riffs and half a D and D manual’s worth of swords and sorcery as the first album. Only they’ve chucked in some Star Frontiers as well.
Musically, there’s definitely a new edge to things so this isn’t just Tales in Space. The keyboards seem more prevalent, and the tones just sound that bit more 1970’s to me. In other words, perfectly suited to this insanity.
Typically of a Chris Bowes project, the songs are ridiculously catchy to the point where you find yourself nodding along and even singing along during the first listen. This is perfectly exemplified by “Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy” replete with it’s near-operatic Powerwolf-esque segments. Thomas Winkler’s vocals are crystal clear, as they are on every track, so by the time you’ve had the thing on a couple of repeat plays you’ll know all the words. The chorus, though, has you from that first listen. Instant intergalactic earworm.
Proof that they’re playing this for laughs – as if you needed it – comes in the form of “The Hollywood Hootsman”. A straight-forward metal track complete with screams that would have Halford beaming with pride and a chorus that’s designed for punching the air to at gigs.
A track that stands out by being different from the rest is the synth-heavy “Universe on Fire” that sounds more like it’s escaped from 1982 than 1992. As with the other tracks, it’s a glorious mix of space dust and gorgonzola, but gives a great change of pace. Standard metal fare is provided by the following track “Heroes (of Dundee)” with lyrics which span the medieval and the futuristic, with talk of galaxies and “gigantic dragons made out of steel”.
“Apocalypse 1992” blasts out like the final, climactic act in a musical rather than just as a song. You know the scenes where the good guy an the bad guy are hitting each other and the audience makes it all dramatic? This is it. Given the live show that accompanied the last tour, I can see this one being acted out with appropriate lunacy.
The bookend tracks, opener “Infernus Ad Astra” and closer “Dundax Aeterna” are both instrumentals and very different. While “Infernus” gets things going, “Dundax” is very… ethereal and atmospheric. The music they play at the very end of the film credits when the real music has run out and they need some filler. Personally, I’ve taken to looping the album up to track nine, and skipping this one as I was to get back to the songs a little faster.
1992 is a superb album, and – hopefully – cements Gloryhammer as a genuine acts in its own right and not just an experimental side project. Having seen the band on the last tour, I simply cannot wait to see them bring this one to the stage. Live dates now, please.
Note that there is a special edition which contains a second CD with complete re-workings of every track along with the Cowdenbeath Symphony Orchestra (!) conducted by Ben Turk. I’ve not heard this as yet but I’m going to see if I can beg it for a second review.
Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is released on September 25th through Napalm Records