Last updated on 20 July 2020
“Rum, beer, quests, and mead. These are the things that a pirate needs!”
By Davy Jones’ beard, only one band throws a chorus line like that at the audience. And only one can be reviewed whilst under the influence, without a ticket from grammar police.
These are the alcohol guzzling sea dogs of Alestorm. Let’s face it: When Christopher Bowes and his gang of merry pirates have another go at a record, fun and cheap booze are on the menu. And their 5th full-length album No Grave But The Sea is absolutely no different. So, uncap your bottle, pour, and unleash the metal waves rolling in from pirate country.
This new attack comes just after the RMR team pulled a few words out of the cargo hold for Sunset on the Golden Age. And make no mistake, you won’t find any significant change in approach or songwriting from these dandy lads from Scotland. The band just continued to bore down these same old dire straits with all sails set, looming lee shore or not.
You will detect some change at least, though. With this new album, Alestorm morphed to some sort of an extended high-octane Folk Metal style, away from the Power Metal they liked to indulge in lately. Yet, they still managed to maintain the energy and exuberance of a Power Metal outfit, and did not jump down into the leafy abyss some other Folk Metal bands disappeared into.
In addition, the captain finally stayed the course of this ship.
Someone decided to can the attempts at covering some serious shit and just go for the fun and silliness. And it becomes them well. Their mighty pirate frigate is now back in the turquoise waters of Fun Sea with no-one attempting to turn off the booze tap. This almost turns into Fiddler’s Green all of a sudden, now don’t it?
More seriously (no pun intended…), Christopher Bowes – seemingly through the Gloryhammer effect – has finally been Winkler-ed. No Grave But The Sea now sports some serious belting and improved singing prowess not seen this side of the Caribbean Islands until today.
And there is one thing they still take deadly serious: It is their metal. Keytar heavy as before and using Folk Metal as some sort of vessel, you will still find a score of metal styles scattered about the record. And an energy that even Eluveitie cannot match this side of their pagan-fueled Folk Metal universe.
Alestorm (the track) spices things up with some Metalcore, bound into an insanely catchy pirate melody. Yet, To The End of the World definitely takes point over all else, if it comes to ranking the tracks. This one really makes you want to jump aboard and go on a cruise fueled by salt pork and grog – and lots of treasure.
Apart from one anchor fucking shipwreck, No Grave But The Sea contains no botched tracks that ailed its predecessor. All of them songs are pretty much tuned for fun on the beach, catchy chorus lines, and all. Tracks like Bar ünd Imbiss or Mexico will surely make you withstand the booze attack these party animals throw at you.
Speaking about which: If you are tempted to invest in the DeLuxe version, have a care. The second disc simply takes the soundtracks and slams some electronic dog barks onto the lyrics part. A perfect WTF moment, if you ask me. Somebody’s brain probably fried and wasted valuable life energy on a piece of bull like this. But hey, some will hate it and others will think that’s hilarious. You choose, just be aware of what you buy with your extra money. At least now we know what the aforementioned dud is good for.
In the end, it is true that Alestorm have not covered themselves in all the frilly colors innovation could bring. Instead, they went to seamlessly latch on to their booze-fueled predecessor Sunset on the Golden Age.
And in truth, their one-eyed, teeth-gnashing beach bar fun is totally irresistible. No Grave But The Sea delivers pleasurable Pirate Metal in a mature Folk Metal cloak. And true again, they leave no pirate gravestone unturned, no cliché unaddressed with their grin-inducing fun metal. But this is their strength. And thanks to these descendants of Blackbeard, we have metal bands of the lighter kind in this morose world of ours.
Now, another round of rum for all. And raise your tankards to cheer this newest pirate piece some more. Specifically for the nomination for the Intermittent Digest – Tome VI. Cool that. Oh, and did I tell ye? There are new pleasures to be had. The cursed Crystal Coconut beckons you.
Get dat tune: