Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: March 29 (EU), April 9, 2013 (NA)
The name alone strikes many wonderful scenes into the minds of power metal fans, from the rolling hills of Scotland, to magical weapons, dragons, and wizards. Enter “Tales From the Kingdom of Fife” the album brought to you by the mastermind behind Alestorm, Christopher Bowes. Focusing on Scottish mythology with a twist, all while exploring the musical realms of epic power metal, this album promises to blow your mind with keyboard solos, soaring heavenly choruses, and triplet drenched string and drum work.
Similar to the lighthearted, near ‘mocking’, style of Alestorm, Gloryhammer takes everything stereotypically found in the genre and plays it up to 11. The music however, deserves to be taken seriously and enjoyed for what it is, perfectly epic power metal. The age old tales of Scotland have been resurrected perfectly. Prepare yourselves. From the first second to the last, this album is packed with soaring, epic tales of Scottish history like the world has never seen before. Probably the only criticism of the record is that the longer songs on the album get slightly repetitive, however the music is quite catchy and unforgettable.
Like any decently epic album should start off, “Anstruther’s Dark Prophecy” is a killer introduction with battle ready snare presence, and a building keyboard fanfare, opening up the second track about a unicorn invasion. Unicorns have just become infinitely more metal than even Adult Swim could possibly make happen. The drums and guitar have a perfect gallop behind heavy keyboard presence, provided by Bowes, and have just as much to add to the music as the other instruments do. This unique level of synth presence gives the album a modern sound rarely heard before in any metal genre. However silly the title may be, “Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” this is one amazingly rockin’ song. Thomas Winkler, a relatively new name to the world of power metal, has found the band perfect for his voice. His vocals stand up to the epic presence of all of the powerful music behind him, balancing both grit and operatic styles perfectly.
With no time to gather your face together after the last song just melted it off, “Angus McFife” begins with a beautiful fanfare chorus, immediately trailed by the soaring guitar tone of Paul Templing. Within merely a couple listens, you will find yourself fist pumping and screaming along with the chorus on your bed, imagining you’re hearing this song live. Or maybe that’s just me? The melodies in the vocal patterns are unbelievably catchy! Then cue that amazing guitar again, and it’s game over. No question as to why the band chose this song as their firsts single.
The tempo slows slightly, speeds up, and then totally drops throughout the next three songs, ultimately leading to the album’s ballad. “Silent Tears of Frozen Princess” is a beautiful track, though the vocalist sounds his best at his higher range, there is a female vocalist accompanying him that compliments nicely. The album refreshingly picks up again for the rest of the album, regaining the strength the album kicked out in the beginning, featuring a strong chant-along song “Hail to Crail” and an impressive instrumental. The last track on the album is over ten minutes long, “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder” and a song featuring a name such as that is setting the bar pretty high for itself. The song holds up to its name and provides a fitting and just end for such an impressive album.
“Tales From the Kingdom of Fife” is a genre defining masterpiece of epic power metal music. The album clearly set out to blow the power metal stereotype out of the water, and whether they intended to or not, they succeeded in creating some of the truest power metal ever recorded. Any fan of the real cheese of power metal, not gouda, this album will be perfect for you. I’m talking soaring speed metal guitars, heavy keyboard solos and spotlights, galloping drums in true Nicko McBrain style, and the vocals of the next power metal god himself… Cheese! If the album ends up being too much for you, grow some chest hair, watch The Lord of the Rings (extended versions), and pick up a battle-axe because clearly, you just don’t get it!
Christopher Bowes – Keyboards
Thomas Winkler – Vocals
Paul Templing – Guitars
James Cartwright – Bass
Ben Turk – Drums