The Scottish pirates of Alestorm are back once more to pillage your ships in a flurry of ale and metal with their fourth full length album Sunset on the Golden Age. You know that with Alestorm you’re going to get an album that’s full of pirate themed upbeat fun with a great metal sound, but on this one they really outdo themselves. From the catchy crowd anthems, to long epic adventures, and the downright fun silly tracks there’s a lot of variation on this release, serving to prove that Alestorm aren’t just a pirate based gimmick and are a great power metal band in their own right. While they’re still the same fun loving, beer swilling pirates they always were, their musicianship is tighter than ever and they’ve released their most consistent, best album to date. It’s time to sail the seven seas and drink many an ale with Alestorm once more.
The base of Alestorm’s sound comes from chunky riffs – heavy, catchy and powerful, helping create that epic sound. Add upbeat folky melodies from the accordion-like keytar and Christoper Bowe’s amazing Scottish pirate-esque growls and you have the recipe for a fun, epic pirate based romp. Right from the outset with Walk the Plank they kick off with a fantastically heavy riff, up there with the finest power metal has to offer. Adding a layer of fun melodic keytar, the upbeat metal sound is fantastic. When Christopher comes in with his great vocals singing about all things piracy, they really do create a fun atmosphere which is perfect at bringing to mind images of all things pirate related – ships, cannons, planks, rum, the whole lot. Christopher couldn’t sound any more like a pirate if he tried and it really brings the songs to life. The ripping solo rounds the song off, and it’s a great way to kick off the album, even adding some sweeping symphonics to the mix.
The most anthemic song on the disc is the second track Drink, with yet more fantastic riffs, but the star of the song is the hilarious lyrics throughout. Referencing all their best songs in a tongue in cheek manner, it’s a perfect example of what makes Alestorm great. With infectious riffs, a sing along chorus, and hilarious lyrics it’s one of their best and sure to be a permanent fixture in future playlists. The other anthem would be Quest for Boats, with another sing along chorus and glorious accordion pomp giving a symphonic air to a song that’s as fun and catchy as it is epic. Mead from Hell about the quest for the alcohol that “You’ll probably find that it makes you go blind, cause the alcoholic proof is through the roof!” is more great fun, while the folky Surf Squid Warfare is yet another slab of riff heavy power metal.
As well as the anthems, there’s also the hilariously silly ones such as Wooden Leg, the story of the pirate with two wooden legs after being hit by a cannon ball in both of them. With it’s insanely catchy riffs and silly opening lyrics it’s already funny, before the chorus of “Wooden Leg, Wooden Leg!” shouted over and over is side splittingly hilarious. Even as a jokey song though it still holds up musically, with those folky keys being frantically fun. Another silly one is their cover of Taio Cruz’s Hangover, originally a poppy electronic dance song. They make this completely their own, with the alcohol fuelled lyrics sounding made for this pirate horde. Replacing the synth melody with that of an accordion, and adding backing vocals for all the “woahs and heys” as well as putting a powerful riff underneath it, the result is fantastic. The highlight thoughis Christopher’s pirate rapping which is every bit as epic as it hilarious, he takes to it really well and it’s another insanely fun track. Pure cheese, but incredibly entertaining.
But Alestorm also show they’re not all silliness and anthems, with two longer epics in the form of the seven minute The Battle of Cartagena, which is the best song here, and the eleven minute title track showcasing their song writing prowess. The former begins with frantic electronics before becoming an epic adventure of piracy. Powerful riffs and folky keys are once more the order of the day, but moving between fast and fun to dramatic and frantic, the song is one of their best. Adding some death growls to the mix adds a darkness to the music alongside the dramatic symphonics, there’a brief sense of darkness, before their trademark chorus comes to restore the light-hearted epic sense of fun. The catchy folk motif that runs through the song is fantastic, especially when moving seamlessly from keyboard to guitar. A sweeping solo incorporates the same melody to the highest echelons of the epic, with a keyboard solo to come set against a crunchy riff. Climaxing with the sound of cannon fire and Chris’ fantastic battle cry, there’s simply no other way to describe this than epic. The title track is simply everything Alestorm – with chunky riffing, sweeping solos, great lyrics, brilliant folky symphonics, and the ever engimatic vocals of Christopher. It’s so well done that it doesn’t feel close to it’s eleven minutes in length, and indeed, when it finishes it leaves you wanting more pirate mayhem.
Overall it’s the best album yet from one of the most unique bands in the metal scene. More than just a gimmick, their song writing is fantastic and there aren’t many bands with such a sense of fun in the metal world. With lot of variation between tracks on the album they combine power metal and folk with the piracy theme astonishingly well with incredibly catchy tracks and a sense of the epic from start to finish. The golden age is just beginning for Alestorm, now join them for another grand adventure across the seven seas!
Catch the band on their upcoming UK Tour!
ALESTORM presents PIRATEFEST 2014
With support from Lagerstein, Red Rum, and Rainbowdragoneyes
8.10 – Norwich – Waterfront
9.10 – Birmingham – Academy 2
10.10 – Sheffield – Corporation
11.10 – Southampton – 1865
12.10 – Brighton – Concorde 2
13.10 – Plymouth – White Rabbit
14.10 – Liverpool – Academy
15.10 – Dublin – Voodoo Lounge
16.10 – Cork – Cyprus Avenue
17.10 – Belfast – Mandela Hall
18.10 – Aberdeen – Garage
19.10 – Glasgow – Arches
20.10 – Bristol – Bierkeller
21.10 – Manchester – Academy 2
22.10 – Exeter – Lemon Grove
23.10 – Reading – Sub 89
24.10 – London – Electric Ballroom
25.10 – Leeds – University
26.10 – Cardiff – Globe