Metal music can be many things: heavy, loud, brutal, nihilistic and intense. But the genre is often far more diverse than first glance indicates. One sub-genre, in particular, stands out from its heavier peers. Power Metal, which is often fantastical in its lyrics, keyboard-heavy in its arrangements and utterly cheesy in its delivery. Yes, there are bands that sincerely dedicate themselves to chronicling the battles of epic heroes against dragons, goblins and wizards. And in October 2019, three bands, Gloryhammer, Beast in Black and Wind Rose united to make what could be the cheesiest tour in metal history: The Intergalactic Terror Tour, which I witnessed in Birmingham, heavy metal’s birthplace.
The battleground chosen was The Mill, a suitable venue quickly filled up with black-shirted metalheads. Proceedings swiftly kick off with the Tuscany based band Wind Rose. Their gimmick, for most power metal bands, have one, is that they sing about Dwarves. As metal cheesiness goes, they make a fine cheddar, with elements of power, folk and industrial metal aiding their Dwarven lyrics.
As metal cheesiness goes, they make a fine cheddar
Their standard hits: ‘To Erebor’ and ‘The Returning Race’ test the sound equipment to its limits and rally the audience before they unleash their crowd-pleasing singalongs: ‘Drunken Dwarves’ and set highlight, their cover of ‘Diggy Diggy Hole’ by Yogscast. It’s a fantastic thing to witness, a crowd of metalheads screaming “I AM A DWARF AND I’M DIGGING A HOLE, DIGGY DIGGY HOLE!” together with the utmost urgency. It’s a short set but a welcome portent of what is to come.
After only 10 minutes we switch from cheddar to stilton, from Tuscany to Finland, from Wind Rose to Beast in Black. If you were to take Bon Jovi, give them speed and have them then read the Berserk manga you would get this band, who’s guitarist has an uncanny Nicholas Cage resemblance and who’s singer looks dressed for bondage but sings like an angel.
This is Yannis Papadopoulos’ hour as he sings about heroes and berserkers at the top of his lungs accompanied by 80s Glam Rock Metal, cut songs from ‘Rocky’ training montages and utterly cheesy love songs: ‘From Hell with Love’ and ‘Blind and Frozen.’ They take the cheese biscuit with ‘Sweet True Lies’ which is a gutsy choice given it’s a metal song that opens with the words: “Baby, baby tell me more of your lies.” Finishing off nicely with ‘The End of the World’ the band commands cheers, applause, demands for another UK tour, but the main event has yet to begin.
Before Gloryhammer takes the stage, however, someone brings out a cardboard cut-out of Tom Jones in front of the microphone and ‘Delilah’ is played, eliciting a massive sing-along. This is genuinely the strangest part of the night.
Once Tom Jones is escorted off-stage, Gloryhammer emerges, the stinking bishop of the evening. How does one describe this Scottish band? Well, imagine if a group of nationalist Scots played Dungeons and Dragons and decided to write songs about their campaign. Every song is an anthemic belter with a huge chorus.
Song after song bring out cheers and mosh pits from an audience hooked on every word of the battles between Angus McFife XIII and the evil chaos wizard Zargothrax. We journey across the River Tay to ‘The Land of Unicorns’, the audience sings two songs about hammers with ‘Legend of the Astral Hammer’ and the first single off their latest album ‘Gloryhammer.’
Every song is an anthemic belter with a huge chorus
There’s even a pantomime element as the bandmates, who are all characters in their bizarre mythos, combine forces, fight, wield instruments as weapons and even get boos from the audience when they bring out the villain songs. It’s an utterly enjoyable setlist that brings out the highlights of the band’s three albums. Between songs, the hyped crowd cannot resist shouting: “Hoots! Hoots! Hoots!” between songs.
By the end of the night, after screaming the chorus of ‘The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee’ everyone is satisfied and vocally exhausted. This is what Metal can be when you don’t take it seriously, a rallying cry for nerds and rockers alike to express themselves and cheer on the mighty Dundee. Thank you Gloryhammer, Beast in Black and Wind Rose. This was beautiful.