Aha! It’s my own personal talk like a pirate day, again, and despite my misgivings about this whole alleged genre and the need to have a serious word with Alestorm, I find myself swabbing the decks and splicing the main brace once more with Tortuga. They claim to be from Tortuga but I suspect closer to Germany and this is their second album, following my first raiding with them in Pirate’s Bride which won me over with its eighties roots and unabashed enthusiasm. So reunited with Sir Blackbeard, Jack The Knife, 3-Finger Bill and Woodleg Willy under the reckless captaincy of Captain Mary Read, we set off on a tale of cursed gold. And drink.
Intro over, ‘Gold and Glory’ tells you everything you need to know musically. This is straightforward, guitar driven 80s metal ‘n’ roll; Great up front vocals from the Captain, catchy riff and chorus with clean and bright guitar breaks. We get the occasional fiddle and flute throughout the album but it’s all built in the riff and the voice. Words are clear as a bell, if with a lovely accent to the English, which is fortunate as Tortuga are a very story driven band – almost as obsessive as the first three Turisas albums in fact. Curses, gold, getting drunk, the usual pirate pastimes with a bit of skullduggery thrown in. I have a particular fondness for ’10 Little Pirates’ in that respect, a 10 Green Bottles kind of thing. Light, yes, but fun and with a dollop of humour, a lovely guitar break and flute melody too. ‘What The Fuck?’ matches it too. Closing track ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ is a rousing closer, a little punky spiked riff, a melodic metal touch and they’re off in a blaze of the morning sun.
Problems? Well I have to say Tortuga need some money to spend on production I think. This is serviceable, yeah, but flat as the Sargasso Sea I’m afraid. When you listen to a song as good and galloping as ‘Appearances Are Deceptive’ which is a total standout, riffs, bubbling bass and clattering drums all bristling with an energy the production fails to let loose. It’s a shame as a band who can write as well as this deserve the spot and polish of a punchy sound.
I’m sure some will think Tortuga pirate metal lite but for me they have an enthusiasm and a joy, plus a genuine knack in their song writing that transcends the rum eyed gaze of an old cynic like me. Not saying they’re the best, but given a strong production hand on the tiller (can’t help feeling Trollzorn records would be a natural home), a fair wind in their sails and their spyglass pointed towards the horizon they could certainly outsail most of the crews I’ve seen. And weirdly I’ve seen a few.
Ah, Captain Read, if it wasn’t for that grapeshot to the knee I took I’m sure I’d stow away with your crew, for lands unknown.
Bury your cynicism deep in the sands, and let them just entertain you. They have the chops and the potential.
I mean, What The Fuck? I like them.