The name Gygax will be familiar to many nerdy types who find joy in pretending to be other people and throwing oddly-shaped bits of plastic around. Gary Gygax was a co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, the ultimate way to piss off the Christian right in the 70s and 80s other than being a KISS fan. It seems only right that the world of metal should pay tribute to the wonderful artform of role-playing games with an act such as Gygax.
High Fantasy is their third album, following on from Critical Hits and 2nd Edition and continues in the same vein, wrapping swords & sorcery lyrics around melodic metal riffs. In terms of heaviness, they’re nearer the hard rock end of the metal scale with plenty of widdly bits and harmonies.
I actually found “Light Bender” a fairly relaxed opener compared to some of the better tracks that followed, but it does ease you into the album. “Hide Mind” is a more intricate number with a faster pace and “The Eyes Have It” towards the end of the album has one of the best riffs. “Mirror Image” isn’t bad either, and the band show their creative chops with the short but funky instrumental “Aquisition, Magnus Canis”.
High Fantasy breezes past quite quickly and I got vague whiffs of 70s prog from it here and there, suiting the original time period of its rulebook-and-dice based influences. I felt that the production could have been a bit “meatier”, but overall it’s an enjoyable blast of wizards and warriors themed mainstream metal.
High Fantasy is out on June 21st
Header image by Cliff Montgomery