Those looking for great prose don’t turn to a dictionary. Instead, a writer opens up the ol’ Merriam-Webster tome to get himself a clinical definition of whatever word he happens to be unsure about. With that step out of the way, our writer can hopefully make something great using the technical knowledge he gained. While he’ll remember the dictionary definition, it will never be inspiring to him; it will just be a reminder about what the word means and how to use it correctly in context. When listening to Gloryful’s third record, End of the Night, I kept coming back to dictionaries. It sounds like heavy metal and I suppose it technically is, similar to how love is “an intense feeling of deep affection” according to its definition. Yet would anyone but the most insufferable pedants be satisfied with this as the true meaning of love? I’d wager that nobody who’s ever loved anyone before would answer in the affirmative.
Likewise, Gloryful is a heavy metal band, sure, but unlike a group like Visigoth or Sabaton, they don’t have that aspect above and beyond mere definition that makes for an exciting listen. To wit: imagine walking by a fridge at a grocery store and seeing those premade microwavable hamburgers; “that is a hamburger,” you could reasonably say. Now picture grilling up a juicy half-pound of beef, putting it on a fresh bun with all of your preferred trimmings, and taking a bite; “that is a hamburger,” you could reasonably say. The difference lies in the italics; a band like Visigoth has the italics, and Gloryful does not. You’ll hear plenty of stuff influenced by Manowar, later Accept, Iced Earth, and Sabaton, and in turn you’d reasonably say that End of the Night is heavy metal. Such is the problem of definitions, I suppose.
Everything on End of the Night is painfully adequate, the sound of an opening band which serves only to get you excited about the headliner’s upcoming set. In Plato’s scheme, “For Victory” represents the painter who produces a picture of the house, and a similar song like Sabaton’s “The Carolean’s Prayer” represents the builder who makes the real thing; the former is plainly inferior artistry, although each aims for a representation of the same form. While the requisite (attempted) heavy metal anthem “Glorriors” sounds about right on the surface, but it doesn’t have any power or gravitas. It even apes Blind Guardian’s vocal melody from the chorus of “This Will Never End” wholesale, which I enjoyed somewhat because I’m one of the twenty people who actually quite liked A Twist in the Myth. The best song here is the title track, which sounds like a lesser version of Alestorm’s brilliant acoustic pub-folk adventure known as Rümplügged. While it sounds alright, it achieves only that; where Alestorm’s music would make the whole pub merrily sing along, Gloryful’s would serve as fitting background music to more interesting conversation.
Gloryful’s chorus in “Heart of Evil” was almost a carbon copy of the chorus in “Another Place” by Nothing Lies Beyond, and the time I was most engaged with End of the Night was when I was trying to place which song this particular chorus was so similar to. Vocalist Johnny La Bomba is competent but a step below charismatic despite his aping of well-known and entertaining vocalists. Taking cues from Dragonforce’s Marc Hudson, Grand Magus’s J.B. Christoffersson, and Sabaton’s Joakim Broden, it’s almost astounding that he isn’t a more interesting presence on End of the Night. His vocal melodies in the extended bridge of “God against Man” are well done and hint at something better, but this slight promise fails to materialize throughout the record. “This Means War” tries to be a strong opener, but is devoid of hooks and the riffing sounds like a tired Tornillo Accept outtake, making for an uninspiring battle cry that would much better suit a conditional surrender with minimal bloodshed than a glorious ride into battle.
Gloryful haven’t made a convincing or truly enjoyable heavy metal record with End of the Night. It technically ticks off many of the right boxes, is produced well enough if not mastered a bit loudly, and everyone in the band is fine at their job. The problem is, it’s just not all that entertaining, compelling, or in possession of any meaningful replay value. I could show my mother what contemporary heavy metal sounds like by playing her a few tracks from End of the Night, but I wouldn’t play her anything here if I wanted her to be impressed by this style of music. Gloryful aren’t a terrible band, but their wheels of steel seem content with merely driving at a leisurely pace down the middle of the road.