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Gloryhammer - "Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife" (CD)

Gloryhammer - "Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife" CD cover image

"Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife" track listing:

1. Anstruther's Dark Prophecy
2. The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee
3. Angus McFife
4. Quest for the Hammer of Glory
5. Magic Dragon
6. Silent Tears of Frozen Princess
7. Amulet of Justice
8. Hail to Crail
9. Beneath Cowdenbeath
10. The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder

Reviewed by on March 19, 2013

"If the gushing unapologetic heroism of fantasy power metal turns you off, well I am sorry to say that Gloryhammer will have you running for your extreme metal albums to wash the bravery of its glory from your ears!"

Oh I can just hear it now….”Alestorm’s Christopher Bowes finds another way to ‘sail the seas of cheese’”! No matter how cheesy critics and fans may believe that the Gloryhammer debut “Tales From The Kingdom of Fife” is, the fact remains that the result is a release of absolute perfection for the power metal lover. Ass kissing of Scotland’s true pirate aside, it does seem that whatever project Bowes involves himself in, it will be played to a level twice as high as bands twice as serious. In fact, Manowar ought to learn lessons on exactly how to present its own version of Lancashire from this band, which mops the floor with the “metal kings.”

For Gloryhammer, the proof is in the musician choices with Alestorm alum Ben Turk on drums and Paul Templing on guitar (both who provided orchestral arrangements for “Back Through Time”), James Cartwright on bass, and Emerald’s mighty voice (and "Swiss cheese master himself") Thomas Winkler. If Bowes’ choices of genre tags are any indication (“Scottish Pirate Metal”), than “Heroic Fantasy Power Metal” should surely raise the hopes of every power metal nerd. The album effortlessly lives up to the high standard, standing toe to toe with Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonland.

As you might expect, the story behind Gloryhammer is two pounds of Double Gloucester with a side of Wensleydale: an enchanted alternate history of Scotland filled with dragons and wizards in the “Kingdom of Fife,” located in the same location as its real life counterpart nestled on the southeastern coast. Our hero, Angus McFife, wages an epic war against the evil wizard Zargothrax to free the oppressed people of the city of Dundee. The tale begins with the agathokakological and maleficent “Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” with firebolts and lightning raining from the sky. With music as great as this, it’s hard not to start rooting for the underrated McFife, outnumbered and outgunned in a hopeless battle of good versus evil.

If you suspend your power metal sterotypes and biases and are able to suppress an early dismissal of this stunning debut and just allow the music to sweep you away to nerdom, then I guarantee you will be singing the choruses of “Quest for the Hammer of Glory” and “Magic Dragon” instantaneously. You’ll be unable to fend off the staying power of the simple but fetching melodies that will long last in your minds. If the gushing yellow or off-white bravery and unapologetic heroism of fantasy power metal turns you off, well I am sorry to say that Gloryhammer will have you running for your extreme metal albums to wash the hardened curds of its glory from your ears!

Bowes’ key work is distinctive and, as expected, over the top, even sounding eerily identical to Turisas in “Hail to Crail” (to the point where you swear this came directly from “Stand Up and Fight”). Winkler’s vocals are majestic and perfect for the genre, far exceeding anything he has done with Emerald (especially in “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder”). Templing’s guitar work is brilliant, and the overall production and mix is pristine. No one can find fault with the play or sound gushing from Gloryhammer, so it will boil down to just how much valorousness you are able to handle. Fortunately for this author, over the top fantasy metal is something I can neither take too seriously nor could ever get enough of. Navigate the seas of whey Captain Bowes...straight on 'till mornin'!

Highs: When it comes to fantasy power metal, this is perfect.

Lows: If you cannot tolerate hardened curds of milk with your metal...run!

Bottom line: "Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife" presents heroic perfection that will have power metal fans sporting their own "Gloryhammer!"

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)