Gloryhammer, Shear, Twilight Force – Biebob Vosselaar, December 14th 2014.
I’ve always had a fondness for stories about dragons, wizards and heroes! Imagine the smile on my face when I discover some metal bands that incorporate these stories on their albums. A few months ago I read that one of those bands Gloryhammer planned a concert in Belgium. Holy cow, I don’t want to miss that! Later on my smile took on some ‘The Joker’ (from the Batman movies) proportions when a second similar band was added to the bill. With high hopes and great expectations I drove to one of Belgian’s best known metal clubs to witness this event. When I arrived at the venue the first three rows before the stage where already taken. For once the audience was filled with ‘younger’ people for the greater part. It seems the youngsters really dig this kind of music. This becomes even clearer when the lights dimmed and everybody started to shout “TWILIGHT FORCE”. The band opened with the fast “Forest of Destiny”. The sound was great! You could hear every instrument blasting through the speakers. But the visual aspect of this band is also a bonus. Being dressed in Middle Ages clothing lifts the performance to a higher level. All the songs have a high sing-along factor and the audience acts as an over the top backing choir. The atmosphere in the venue was amazing and I felt compelled to join this party (even with my camera in my hands). Many fists raised in the sky. The band played the entire debut album “Enchanted Dragon of Wisdow” with the exception of “Fall of Eternal Winter”. And if I may add a good choice, because the temperature inside Biebob reached tropical values! Also a big thumbs-up to the guitar players and keyboard-dude for wearing their costume during the entire show. This was the final show of the tour and on a few occasions this was audible with the vocals of Christian. Some high notes weren’t top notch, but I didn’t mind and I believe no one in the audience did either. This set was not only great due to the great stream of happy sounding epic power metal, but also due to the unbelievable response from the audience. The first quest was won!!
Second band on stage was the Finnish SHEAR. The band released their second full album “Katharsis” this year and got some great reviews. The music style is quite different from Twilight Force and could be described as modern metal with some power and melodic metal influences. Alexa proved that she is a powerhouse vocalist on many songs, but her voice was sometimes less present in the mix. But she had an impressive stage presence and reminded me a bit on Phil Anselmo. She also had a very striking outfit. A mixture of Scottish chequered parts with black leather pieces! It gave her a bit of a punky look. The band set a darker mood at the venue and threw some really heavy parts with complex rhythms around. All the band members were great musicians and gave their best. It’s remarkable that this bunch could still deliver that kind of power and aggression on the last day of the tour. The band also got a great response from the audience, but not on the same level as Twilight Force. I personally would have scheduled this band as an opener. But nevertheless, they filled their set with great groovy metal and they played songs from their both releases, with an emphasis on the latest record.
I already was blown away by Twilight Force and I wondered if GLORYHAMMER could top that! Before the warriors appeared on stage many hammers (inflatable ones) and a few Unicorns were visible in the crowd. When the band opened with the ultra-catchy “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee” it became immediately clear that this would be an evening to remember. The packed venue performed the back-up and harmony vocals like their lives depended on it! Each character of the Gloryhammer story fulfilled their role with a great enthusiasm! Thomas Winkler’s (a.k.a. Valiant hero Agnus McFife) vocals were truly amazing! The power that came out of his throat was out of this world. But Christopher Bowes (a.k.a. Evil wizard Zargothrax) stole the show on many occasions! He even picked up an action camera from a person in the crowd and made a three minute film on stage, while he continued playing the keys! The man is also known as the singer from pirate metal band Alestorm. He’s a real piece of work and made me laugh several times. The band doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but with tales about dragons, wizards and unicorns that’s understandable, isn’t it! They had the crowd eating out of their hands. With encouragement from the insane crowd the Hootsman managed to empty three big cans of beer in an ‘ad fundum’ manner! Their debut album “Tales From The Kingdom of Fife” was released in 2013 and many fans are hungry for the follow-up. We got a little taste of that with the new song “Rise Of The Chaos Wizards”. It was devoured without hesitation by the crowd and high hopes were set for that second album. The entire first album was almost played in the same runner order, except for “Angus McFife” which was the first encore and “Silent Tears of Frozen Princess” which was skipped. Mainly because on the album this is a duet with Marie Lorey. This unforgettable experience ended with the song “Wizards!”, but afterwards the audience kept shouting. All members from the three bands came on stage and Mr. Bowes surfed atop the crowd from the stage to the bar. And in his path followed the singer and one of the guitar players from Twilight Force. Whenever Gloryhammer or Twilight Force does a show in Belgium or the South of The Netherlands, no wild horses will keep me away! What a blast this was!
After the show I drove home, because I had to go to work the next morning. But on the way I repeated the harmony and backing vocals with full force in my car!
Text and pictures: Rik Bauters