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Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards


by Matt Hensch

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If you're like me, you've grown tired of watching the vacant space left by the members of Rhapsody of Fire when they decided to split up. While the two versions of that group continue to desperately flop around like fish out of water, Gloryhammer helps sooth the empty hole a bit-the Preparation H of symphonic power metal, if you will. "Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards" takes the Rhapsody of Fire formula and runs with it barefacedly. The effort transcends just stupid worship of a trailblazing band, however, as Gloryhammer is capable of writing some damn fine songs that capture the finest traits of the epic symphonic power metal sound. Their gimmick is dumb, but I'm at the point in my life where I just don't give a sh*t anymore.

I guess the funniest thing surrounding "Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards" is that it doesn't suck despite having the IQ of a coffee mug. The lyrics and the story they tell are outrageous and campy, pretty much taking the pompous, grandiose nonsense of Rhapsody of Fire and making it self-aware. There's something to admire in the absurdity, because the lyrics, although objectively stupid, are more of a supplementation than a derailment. Songs like "The Hollywood Hootsman" and "Legend of the Astral Hammer" have the campy, awesomely-bad choruses and bridges of this kind of thing nailed down in a way that knocks on the door of symphonic power metal's better features. The whole process of the record becomes enjoyable once the initial feeling of nonsense surrounding the group becomes an afterthought.

"Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards" earns the privilege of proving to be more than the sum of its parts. The individual performances and instrumental sections completing the musical collective don't sound too captivating; Gloryhammer, at times, is just a symphonic power metal group. This is sort of a blessing in disguise, because the band isn't bent on proving itself by launching a dick-measuring contest of excessive keyboards and arrangements. Most of the album is paced pleasantly, dabbling in rapid-fire Rhapsody-esque bursts ("Rise of the Chaos Wizards"; "Questlords of Inverness, Ride to the Galactic Fortress!") and moderate power metal rockers ("The Hollywood Hootsman," "Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy"). Again, the riffs and arrangements tend to be incredibly straightforward and predictable, but the choruses and chemistry within Gloryhammer are fulfilling at day's end.

The Rhapsody of Fire/Freedom Call homages are nicely done; the soaring "Victorious Eagle Warfare" and the addictive nature of "Universe on Fire" are admirable, maybe even excellent. In the end, this is the kind of record that has a surprising amount of substance in spite of Gloryhammer running around in its piss-stained Thomas the Tank Engine underpants with a bag on its head. Although I enjoy what Gloryhammer does here, this is the type of album that will fool some into not accepting the giant, walking cliché shamelessly sucking up every bit of atmosphere, hence the brain-melting retardation that is almost palpable. That's not necessarily a bad thing per se, but it is low-hanging fruit, and that fruit gets picked quickly.

Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards
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