Ah-haaar me hearties, splice the main-brace, shiver me timbers, bury the booty and send Woodleg Willy over here to give me a jolly Roger. Yes, once more we set sail under the most contrived of metal sub-genres since Vondur tried to invent Star Wars black metal; Pirate Metal. Bloody Running Wild and Johnny fucking Depp have a lot to answer for. Hangs ’em from the yard arm by their rum soaked thumbs, says I. Ah-haaar. I means where’s Master Bates and Seaman Staines when you need ’em, laddo? Off playing with Big Willy I’ll be bound. Scurvy dogs.
Yep, I’m avoiding the issue. Badly.
Welcome to the slightly short-handed Teutonic crew of Tortuga (currently seemingly a trio of Captain Mary Read and Sir Blackbeard (presumably knighted for services to the Bristol shipping industry), with the aforementioned Woodleg Willy, having marooned the rest of their band on some treasure island). Nicely packaged CD too considering the slow tides that brought it to these dark shores- good credit there and at least it makes me think is had a lot of heart and soul into it.
So into the treacherous waters off the music we go. Are they, as they themselves say, born hundreds of years too late?
There’s a storm brewing with the intro, all very Turisas and Nightwish over the top drama which really is just what you want before the winds fill the sails and ‘Ready For Boarding’ calls out. It it’s a very Germanic sound with clean and strong guitar and, joy upon joy, not a fiddle or accordion in sight! The production is a little odd, the lead vocals which sound rather good and very expressive, a little buried beneath the guitars. It’s catchy without being twee even if the lyrics sometimes seem a touch torturous in their construction which is partly a result of Tortuga’s desire to turn each song into a tale in its own right. Yeah, a nice bright start. ‘Black Jack’ has some weird childish chanting in these beginning, delivered by Cap’n Read I assume, before dancing into a sprightly metal jig. The guitar work on the riff is again really rather impressive; well written and catchy without being irritating. ‘Beauty Is Her Middle Name’ raises the jib with an almost NWOBHM feel to the bouncy but solid riff and with a fine vocal performance carrying the melody I realise, shock horror, I’m actually enjoying this!
Having found my sea legs (they were in my Emergency Back Up Pirate Personality box under my bunk all along, ah-haaar!) we get all excited for ‘Land Ho’. This is genuinely a right little cannonball of a song. Fun full crew backing vocals and a riff that just barrels along like The Black Pearl snorting coke.
We then catch our breath with ballad ‘Silence Before The Storm’ which is Ok and bolstered by another excellent guitar break. ‘The Captain’s Crew’ rouses the salty dogs once more with an almost old Saxon style riff and a a big, smiling joie de vivre that makes it all worthwhile. ‘Tortuga Island’ has a nice piratical hook-line and a swagger appropriate to the tale spun. For all my cynicism there is so much fun and heart to this you honestly can just jettison all irony and fling yourself into the melee. ‘Pirate Song’ has pipes but thankfully they are well clapped in irons rather than scampering around all over the place and flogged into shape by another good, driving riff. We end with ‘Under The Curse’. The riff is a little familiar but it’s still fun and with some very silly spoken words we sail off into the sunset.
So here I am, sitting on a dead man’s chest, swilling rum like its water and plotting my next raid. Thing is if people want to sing about pirates then who am I to deny it? People like Alestorm still and I have a soft spot for the UK’s Red Rum. It’s better than pornogrind misogyny and no worse than dragons, gods, demons or even half the songs about getting pissed I’ve heard. And maybe the excellent TV series Black Sails can give it a little boost too.
If you can get over your hip bone and your ironic reflex and fancy a galleon full of solid catchy Teutonic via NWOBHM heavy metal and a fist full of high seas tales then ship out with Tortuga
“Yes, we are pirates ” the band logo says. Why? Because they arrrrrrrrr!
I’ll get me coat…
(A shocking 7.5/10 Gizmo)