The one and only heavy metal pirates of Alestorm have crashed upon our shores once more with their 5th full length album: “No Grave But The Sea”!
It’s been 3 years since their last opus “Sunset On The Golden Age” so it’s about time we dusted off those eye patches and let the mead and rum flow freely, as we embark on an epic adventure on the high seas with tales of pirates, a treasure island, anchors, and a massive catchy number, simply entitled “Alestorm”, to name but a few.
“No Grave But The Sea” opens your world to 10 epic, yet modern, symphonic folk metal anthems, and each one will grab you with the catchy hooks which dare you to try and keep your foot from tapping, or wearing an all-encompassing grin about your face, while absorbing the punchy, riff laden party anthems which we have all come to know and love from the Scottish quintet.
From the moment the opening chords kick in, the listener gets taken on a voyage aboard Alestorm’s very own Jolly Roger, and each and every tune exudes massive keyboard solos which are harmonised together with blistering guitars. The album itself verges on a magnificent power metal battle which is intertwined with massive riffing and power chords in equal measures.
Each tune has the obligatory pirate/beer/rum theme and has powerful, catchy, punchy choruses in abundance, all which seem to have the ability to get any pit, in any venue, bouncing away, and singing along to these future anthemic tunes.
The Accordion on this album, like all the previous releases, seems to sit alongside the guitars as if that’s what it was made for, and soon becomes the backbone of this adventure. The band however, do decide to slow it down on a few occasions, admittedly just for a few moments, whether this is done on purpose to allow the listener to catch their breath, before continuing the journey, or just a natural progression of the song, I feel it is a piece of genius and keeps the fluidity and momentum on track, almost replicating an avalanche as it builds with speed down a mountain. This is most noticeable on “Bar Und Imbiss”, in which they throw in a lovely guitar solo mid song, which perfectly exhibits the musical skills of one of the bands axemen. They also bring the whole album to a close with an 80 second acoustic guitar doodle set to the backdrop of waves crashing, presumably against the beach of a deserted island. A beautiful touch, just to help the listener come back down to earth and bring them back into the real world, after all, you can only party so hard, and there is only so much rum you can drink.
‘Mexico’, starts with an 80’s electro esque intro, which seems way out of kilter for Alestorm, but the band soon pulls it back and sets full sail into their tried and tested recipe of catchy vocals and punchy music which will have every listener bouncing on the spot. Mid album, the band, completely change direction, and in my opinion, not for the better, as they lower the tone with a tune built around a chorus of various expletives and obscenities, and while I agree that the tune is still as fun laden and bouncy as the rest of the album, I really don’t see what they were trying to achieve by building a complete song around a chorus which could seem so offensive. Having said that, I do think that in the live environment, this may just become a firm fan favourite, as I can imagine the entire venue screaming each and every lyric straight back at the band and loving every minute of it.
So, while the band seem to use their tried and tested recipe for each track on the album, they do seem to somehow bring an individuality to the songs which help distinguish each track from its neighbour, while its evidently clear after listening to the album, that every house on the street is in full party mode.
The Pirates have landed on our shores once more, and with them they have brought an overflowing bounty of individuality, power, precision, and fun, which is more valuable to the ears than gold probably is to real life pirates, and I’m sure, every listener will welcome these Scottish pirates back with open arms and overflowing tankards.
(8/10 Phil Pountney)