As soon as I heard about Gloryhammer touring here, I knew I was going. Tales From the Kingdom of Fife is my fucking jam, dude. I love the shit out of that album. Combined with my mates in Aquilus and Hybrid Nightmares (HN were replacing Bane of Winterstorm) opening before the mighty Lagerstein, this was a killer lineup I wasn’t going to miss anyway.
Plus, it was at the Espy. I fucking love the Espy, even if it is a bitch and a half to get to. Anyway, I got there with plenty of time to spare, since everyone was behind schedule.
First things first; the sound was…iffy. The bands were constantly asking for changes, and I could barely hear the bass at all for Lagerstein, or keys during Gloryhammer. Thankfully, for the most part, the sound was good though. The lighting was great, though, as I’ve come to expect from the Espy. Since the stage isn’t really that high, the lighting didn’t suffer from blind-the-fuck-out-of-me-itis, which I was thankful for.
Aquilus took the stage first, and was immediately plagued with technical issues. One of the guitarists’ cab heads immediately exploded, and he struggled the rest of the gig with sound cutouts in the gentler tones.
However, the band recovered spectacularly, with what turned out to be complete improvisation on the part of the other band members that went for the better part of 10 minutes while Ben from HN lent his cab head to Aquilus.
Since doors opened late, they were already over time, but they managed to forge through two more songs before the other guitarist broke a string. Some shows just can’t go right, man. However, they still managed to pull off an intense and technically impressive show.
Hybrid Nightmares’ show, however, went off without a hitch. Black lighting illuminating their white cloaks and electric blue and UV corpse paint (which was awesome, by the way) and drenched in smoke, the “unfathomable, unconquerable, unmolestable servants of The Obelisk” brought their own brand of black metal to the stage, and a couple of songs from their upcoming full-length release which I hadn’t heard before featured in the set.
Their sound was phenomenal, everything was kept tight and the whole set was fantastic. Their stage presence was commanding and intense, but it was still light and felt like a jam session with more costume. All in all, they were utterly brilliant, but then, I’ve come to expect nothing less from one of my favorite bands in the Melbourne scene.
After Lagerstein had set up, but before they started playing, one of the most anticipated moments of the show finally arrived. Gumley (guitars, Hybrid Nightmares) had previously challenged Chris Bowes to a pavlova (if you don’t know what pavlova is, it’s kind of like a meringue but way better) eating contest.
Joining them was Phil from Lagerstein (bass), and they passed some slices of the pav to members of the crowd, myself included. The countdown began, and all the contestants wolfed down their pav as quickly as they could. Phil decimated the competition, followed by Gumley and I, as well as several members of the crowd, and eventually Chris finished. Goddamn, that was some good pav. Thank you so much to Nana Gumley, official HN baker, for her efforts in making the pav-off so awesome.
Lagerstein were fantastic, but let’s be honest here, any band that gives you free beer always is. A pirate stage performance, complete with costumes and even a ship’s helm, combined with more alcohol consumption than should be humanly possible, made for a hilarious and awesome show.
The music was killer as well — very similar to Alestorm, but infused with a bit of Aussie Rock flavor. It’s just a shame I couldn’t hear much of the bass, because Phil was rocking out up there, man. It’s so good to just see dudes partying up on stage and having a good time. Beer bongs made several appearances both on stage and given to the crowd, which was also awesome. Their energetic and alcohol-fuelled stage performance really enhanced the light-hearted pirate gimmick they were going for, and they were brilliant fun to jam out to. Chris Bowes even appeared on stage to sing “Beer Bong” with them, which was really cool to see.
Gloryhammer finally took the stage soon after Lagerstein finished. Playing Tales From the Kingdom of Fife from start to finish, they had at long last brought their mighty and cheesy take on epic power metal to the enchanted citadel of Melbourne, and they didn’t disappoint.
Despite a few mike squeaks, Thomas was perfectly on form, belting out each song perfectly, full of energy that only power metal could have. Throughout the show, Thomas introduced each of the band members, and the characters they played, before the songs where their characters were relevant:
• Hootsman, the Barbarian Warrior of Unst, played by James Cartwright [bass]; When Hootsman was introduced, a chant that would repeat throughout the night began: “Hoots! Hoots! Hoots!”
• Ralathor, the Mysterious Hermit of Cowdenbeath, played by Ben Turk [drums]
• Ser Proletius, Grand Master of the Templar Knights of Crail, played by Paul Templing [guitars]
• Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty, played by Chris Bowes [keys]
• Angus McFife, Crown Prince of Dundee, Heir to the Kingdom of Fife, played by Thomas Winkler [vox]
James seemed to be quite drunk – which wasn’t at all surprising considering members of Lagerstein would run onto the stage to give the members of Gloryhammer (and the crowd) beer bongs — and loved the crowd cheering on his character. The costumes also featured a gigantic Hammer of Glory, which looked awesome.
Musically, everyone was brilliant, despite some sound issues that saw the band requesting changes somewhat frequently, and several mike squeaks. Everything was tight and pitch-perfect, despite the staggering amount of drinking that was taking place. During “Silent Tears of a Frozen Princess,” a cute girl got up on stage, clad in princess-type clothes, and danced to the gentle and slow ballad before the security guard escorted her and her friend, who wore full-on chain mail and leather armour, from the stage.
She made another appearance during “The Epic Rage of Furious Thunder,” where she sat on her knight friend’s shoulders and was given the mike to sing the female verse. They played the entire album from start to finish. Zargothrax returned to the stage, saying:
“Alright, you pathetic mortals. Have you enjoyed this show? Has this show given meaning to your pathetic lives? Even now, my undead unicorns ride from Dundee to invade the Citadel of Melbourne. No one can stop me now!”
Angus McFife then entered the stage, crown on his head, while Zargothrax cried “Angus McFife!” and was slain with the Hammer of Glory as the encore song “Wizards!” kicked off. Nathan from Lagerstein, dressed as a goblin, placed a golden crown atop each of their heads.
Gloryhammer were nothing short of incredible. Everything I expected and more, and that’s still understating it. From the costumes, characters, and incredible stage performance to the music itself, all of it was so close to flawless that there can hardly be a difference. Completely serious right now, Gloryhammer are one of my favorite bands, and that show proved me right.
You know the drill. Go check out the bands I’ve written about. All of them are definitely worth your time. And if you get the opportunity, go see Gloryhammer. Even if you don’t like them, go see them. You won’t regret it.
I’m seeing Morbid Angel play Covenant in full, so stay tuned for that one. Until next time.
Gloryhammer set list:
[Anstruther’s “Dark Prophecy” played as Gloryhammer took the stage]
1. The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee
2. Angus McFife
3. Quest for the Hammer of Glory
4. Magic Dragon
5. Silent Tears of a Frozen Princess
6. Amulet of Justice
7. Hail to Crail
8. Beneath Cowdenbeath
9. Epic Rage of Furious Thunder
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.