Gloryhammer is a conceptual symphonic power metal group from Scotland, and is most notable for having Christopher Bowes, keyboardist and vocalist of Alestorm, within its ranks. Of course the rest of the line-up is impressive as well, featuring bassist James Cartwright (Hoarstone), guitarist Paul Templing (Annwn), drummer Ben Turk (Sorcerer's Spell), as well as vocalist Thomas Winkler (Barque of Dante, ex-Emerald) who joined the group later on in 2011. All of them, of course, go under fictional names for the sake of the band's premise. 2013 saw their debut album, Tales from the Kingdom of Fife, through Napalm Records, something that was no surprise given the link between the label and Alestorm. Two years later and we have Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, another conceptual album based in the year 1992. And, well, what their debut album established, this one just runs away with it.

Well, let's just start things off by establishing that Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is a fantastic album... for Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire. "Rise of the Chaos Wizards" really seems to the take from the second of those two eras, relying a lot on heavy symphonics and choir vocals with a fantastical world so upbeat it sounds as though it were torn straight off the start of Symphony of Enchanted Lands II - The Dark Secret. "Victorious Eagle Warfare" is another that just sounds like a random Rhapsody track ripped off with new lyrics and a few additional notes from the keyboard. Really, it's almost downright impressive as to how close and effortlessly Gloryhammer manages to mimick that signature Rhapsody sound, right down to a similar vocal presence.

Anyone familiar with these bands will immediately realize this and others like early Helloween or Gamma Ray are huge sources for this five-piece. But, if you didn't know any better, you'd think this were a creation from the mind of Luca Turilli born in the nineties and recently unearthed by SPV Records or even Nuclear Blast Records. I'm a huge Rhapsody fan, and from the moment "Rise of the Chaos Wizards" kicked up, I felt as though I should be hearing about a cease and desist order being placed on this, much like Jeff Walker supposedly issued against Relapse Records upon the release of The County Medical Examiners follow-up full-length effort Olidous Operettas.

There's very few tracks on here that really strive to be original in any sense of the word, mostly because they immediately resonate with Alestorm fans. Other than some of the additional over-the-top aesthetic of the composition itself, "The Hollywood Hootsman", in particular, is only missing the rough vocal style of Christopher Bowes and more gang chants than what shows up towards the end which are brief grunts that say "hoots". Even "Apocalypse 1992" has traces of that adventurous world, though a little more well disguised, a statement that shouldn't be made given how this entire effort sounds.

Space 1992: Rise odf the Chaos Wizards is like the literal version of the stigma of bad horror films inserting trailers on a random tv to show it's Halloween. Yes, we get the time frame, but your boring flick showing Michael Myers makes the viewer want to walk out of the theater and go watch Halloween in the comfort of their own home. If you miss the days of the Enchanted Lands, or just want some spiritual successor to the days of the Emerald Sword saga, this is your album. If you want something other than a literal carbon copy clone of one of the most important names in power metal history, then you'll want to look elsewhere. As a major fan of the Rhapsody triangle, this album had me dying to turn it off by "Legend of the Astral Hammer" and throw on Dawn of Victory, or even Tales from the Emerald Sword Saga for the hell of it. This isn't to say Gloryhammer is a bunch of talented musicians. In fact, this effort shows it, but this follow-up just distances themselves as their own entity, and their hero worship becomes more of a detriment to their presence in the symphonic power metal world.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.