BLOODSTOCK INTERVIEW: Gloryhammer

GLORYHAMMER are the essence of what power metal stands for. Catchy choruses, up-beat melodies and over the top silliness. Since their inception in 2010, the band has become a big player in the modern power metal scene and now after a successful set at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, we caught up with Ben Turk and Paul Templing (that’s Ralathor, the Mysterious Hermit of Cowdenbeath and Ser Proletius, Grand Master of the Templar Knights of Crail in case you didn’t know) to talk about Bloodstock, the development of power metal and whether in fact power metal bands are the devil’s music.

So how do you think your set at Bloodstock Festival 2016 went?

Paul: Really well! We’d never played a set that early before, ever! We actually camped last night so waking up and thinking “oh we have to play in a couple of hours” and when we actually got on stage it was like we were playing at seven o’clock at night. Everybody got up to see us!

Ben: It actually got better and better as we went on

Paul: Yeah, we were really surprised that people had got up as if I wasn’t obliged to get up in the morning then I wouldn’t!

Ben: It was actually quite impressive that we managed to get up for it so the fact loads of other people did as well was really cool!

This performance follows the short tour you did with BLIND GUARDIAN, how do the two compare?

Ben: Festivals are always different because it’s bigger but I think our kind of show works at a festival when you have this big presentation. When you are a support band you are always under this pressure to get on stage and get everything set up so this was cool, this was a really nice thing to do in the UK.

Bloodstock started as a power metal festival, so for a band like you guys to come and play do you feel like you instantly fit in on the lineup?

Paul: It’s come a long way since then though, a lot of the fans that come to it probably don’t even listen to power metal! It was actually my first festival that I personally attended when I was 16 years old to see SONATA ARCTICA in like 2004 I think. Back then, it was all power metal, all the headliners were power metal, for anyone who was into power metal it was like a dream festival. Nowadays there will be plenty of people here who hate power metal but there’s plenty of people who love it! There’s a mixture of stuff.

Ben: Plenty of people hate us personally! [laughs]

Very much the message behind GLORYHAMMER is quite an elaborate story. For people who may not know, can you try to explain the concept?

Paul: In one sentence go!

Ben: It will be a long sentence. Okay so basically it’s set around Dundee and the royal family of Dundee, starting with Angus McFife the first in the year 1992 AD which stands for After Dundee and he has to fight an evil wizard, Zargothrax, who for some reason is obsessed with trying to destroy Dundee or take it over or something like that. We did an album about that, he goes around and collects the jewels, collects the coins, gets like 1000 points or whatever it is he needs to do. Throws the wizard into a pool of liquid ice and then you end up 1000 years later in space where the same thing happens again except the world implodes at the end. So that’s it in a nutshell!

You guys are very much becoming like a space opera, you should do the theme for Star Wars!

Paul: I think there is a lot of competition for the role! But there is a Star Wars influence.

Ben: I do all the orchestral bits and pieces and there’s definitely John Williams influence. John WilliamsStar Wars soundtracks is something I adore a lot.

Last year you released Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. How have you found the reception for that album?

Paul: Really well! We’re really pleased with it. We’re very proud of that album compared to our first album, musically it is a lot more ambitious!

Ben: More individual! The first time we set out to make a generic album, it is generic. I agree when every time someone says it is generic because it is true. But with this one, we knew what we sounded like. When we made our first album, we had never played a show and we had never really done anything so this time we know the personalities in the band have come out a bit more.

I know it is early days but have you already started to look ahead to the next record?

Ben: It is difficult to know, it will probably all materialise in a big mass.

Paul: It is kind of like writing for an essay deadline. You come up with ideas and you think about it for a while but then in reality, it’s all rushed through the night before. That’s probably what’s going to happen!

Ben: We make plans and they change completely, even right up to when an album is finished it is always changing so it would be very premature to say how it is going to go because everybody will probably change their minds in two weeks.

With your live stage presence you have the costumes and all the humour. How much of a focus is that when you are planning your set for a festival?

Ben: It sort of just happens on its own!

Paul: We never really sat down and said “this is going to happen like this, this and this”, we did our first ever UK tour and we didn’t know what we were going to do. Just over the course of the tour we were like “oh we should do this here, we should this there” and it’s kind of stuck ever since because it seems to work really well as a format.

Since Bloodstock has evolved and become bigger and bigger, how do you feel the scene is today for power metal bands?

Ben: In the UK, I don’t think there are a lot of power metal bands.

Paul: It kind of peaked in 2007 I guess, when DRAGONFORCE were really big and they were playing arena shows and everybody was discovering new power metal bands. Since then, it’s kind of regressed a little bit. In Europe it seems to be on the up actually, in Europe it has always been popular.

Ben: There seems to be like a renascence, with like SABATON. Bands like that, that fun and accessible power metal does seem to be more popular.

Paul: It seems like it became too overblown, all of the old power metal bands became like prog bands, to the point where people weren’t enjoying it just for the silliness and the melodies anymore.

Christopher: There’s a place for that. But when every song is 10 minutes long, every song has orchestral bits.

Paul: It seems like the old school bands can see there’s bands like us doing alright and they are going “maybe this is popular again and we should go back.”

So do you think it’s having a bit of a resurgence?

Paul: Yeah! A catch chorus and a silly melody, that’s all you need! You can’t do that if you are a black metal band.

Yeah, a bit constricted to the whole hailing Satan thing…

Ben: I don’t know, Satan’s tastes are unknown to me. Maybe we are all doing it wrong, maybe we are the Satanic band! [laughs]

And really just to close off, are there any bands you guys going to check out over the weekend?

Paul: TWISTED SISTER! I was saying earlier I saw them last weekend because we played Wacken Festival, they are really big in Germany so it was really good to see them in front of such a huge crowd. It was like their final show in Germany, we’re going to go see them.

Ben: There’s a band called VODUN or something, they are like West-African rhythms and doom guitars, it’s interesting! I’m intrigued by that!

Well thank you guys for talking to Distorted Sound, have a good Bloodstock!

Ben & Paul: Thank you!

Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards is out now via Napalm Records. 

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