Gather round ye’ bunch ‘O landlubbers and draw ye’serls a pew, fer I have a tale for thee which is unlike any ye’ will ever hear or believe….
Tis a tale o’ Nautical naughtiness… piratical deeds, rum, ale and meads…. Donkey shows, Margaritas, Tequila and Tacos…. Wenches, flintlocks, cutlasses and lewd acts with ships’ chandlery. Fer this is the tale of Alestorm, the feared pirate crew hailin’ from the land o’ the lawless, that famed piratical nation begining wit’ an “S” but nay tae do with the Horn’ O’ Africa. Steel ye’selves men, wench and brat, fer there is No Grave But The Sea fer the likes o’ these fine folk.
Piratical theatrics aside, Alestorm, the ‘Pirate Metal’ outfit who burst onto the scene in 2008 with their debut album, Captain Morgan’s Revenge took many by storm. The hard hitting blend of Power Metal and Folk Metal delivered with a Sea-Shanty feel forming the backbone of the band’s sound led to the coining of the description “Pirate Metal”, and the nautical themes of plundering activities just compounded the image. Despite the band being one of metal’s divisive Marmite moments in some circles, their infectious music and overall sense of fun (just check any of their videos out) makes them really enjoyable and easy to get into. With No Grave But The Sea set to anchor in port this Bank Holiday weekend, prepare for the attack!
With a strong opening statement in the form of the title track, the symphonic overtures, fast paced Euro-Metal feel and energetic folky vibes, Alestorm get down to business. The Scottish dialect in combination with ‘Pirate-speak’ really brings life to the lyrics, helping the story they tell come off with a vibrant feel. The contrasting call/response style with growls and sneered lines in combination with the gang vocals helps augment the whole sea shanty approach. Soon enough, you’ll be wanting to brandish your own cutlass, raise the flags, sails, draw in the anchor and be on your way to Tortuga, Port Royal and other such dens of piratical debauchery.
“Mexico” is where the fun really begins on this release and if you check out the music video, you’ll see exactly why.
With an intro reminiscent of an old 8-bit sound system (Chiptune anyone?), as soon as it kicks in, a huge wave of distortion comes in, bringing with it the uplifting feel. The jovial nature of the music and lyrics combined with its up-tempo jollity makes it an infectious and catchy track which will cement it firmly as a fan favourite and a solid live track. The call/response lyrical delivery with the simple melody make it easily picked up, and sooner or later, you’re drawn in to the world of tequila, tacos and donkey shows!
In typical Alestorm fashion, the rest of the album goes on with a mixture of these two approaches. The tongue in cheek feel and flair of the lyrics, the upbeat and jolly feel of the music and the wicked storytelling which exists in each song all help paint a vivid mental image of events unfolding for your listening pleasure.
“Alestorm” is a heavier, more metal track with a harder edge in the verses. There are thundering guitar riffs and massive gang vocal choruses which help drive the track on (along with another wicked music video which packs plenty of humour), whilst “Bar Und Imbiss” has that classic sea shanty feel to it, again rich in mental imagery courtesy of the vocal delivery and clever instrument expression.
“Fucked With An Anchor” is another tongue firmly planted in cheek track, which again displays the wicked sense of humour the band has. Telling the tale of a curse and a man’s plan to lift it and gain revenge with rather questionable methods, it has a very jaunty feel to it and, despite profane lyrics, is a rather catchy and friendly song…. Well, friendly as long as you’re not the unfortunate witch doctor refrenced by the end of the track.
As with any release by Alestorm, it’s an acquired taste. The melodic power and folk metal delivery is a very divisive style. Some people just cannot take to it, the same can be said for the lyrics. Many may cite the over reliance on profanity, toilet humour and nonsensical ramblings as clutching at straws, and sometimes it does feel this way, but from Captain Morgan’s Revenge back in 2008 to this current release, No Grave But the Sea, the bold crew of the nautical marauders Alestorm continue to pillage, party and bring tales of their journeys with enthusiasm and style.
No Grave But The Sea is yet another solid slice of melodic metal.