Power Metal. Pirates. Drinking Songs. All on one album… how fun is that? And there you have the infectious new album from the band Alestorm.
Sunset on the Golden Age, the latest release from self-proclaimed true Scottish Pirate Metal band, Alestorm, hit store shelves on Aug 1 in Europe, followed by the UK release on Aug 4 and a day later in the US. It is the first in three years, and long overdue. Not convinced? Give it a listen. If the concept of Pirate Metal doesn’t entice you to listen, then nothing will.
Alestorm is a power metal band at its core. Strong riffs, driving bass drums, powerful vocals. But Alestorm is also a folk metal band as well. At least, that is what they would be if not for a genre all their own. Their songs are made from tales of great deeds, and sea monsters, ships crashing into rocks, and drinking your fill in the company of bawdy tavern wenches.
There are a lot of things to love about Alestorm’s music. First, it is metal, and it is heavy. If you are a fan of bands such as Manowar, Testament, Hammerfall, you will enjoy Alestorm. If you like folk metal bands such as Korpiklaani, Primordial, Turisas, or Elvenking, you will probably like Alestorm. If you appreciate of a quirky nature with a sense of satire, drama, and comedy, such as GWAR, Weird Al, or Tenacious D, you can probably appreciate Alestorm.
Drink is the first single released for the album, along with a music video. This song is just plain fun. It is hard to not sing along with it, and to have the song playing in your head for days to come. “We are here to drink your beer, and steal your rum at the point of a gun. Your alcohol to us will fall, cause we are here to drink your beer.” The point of this song is pretty clear. Drink a tradition power metal anthem, complete for a crowd chant, “Drink, Drink, Drink!”
Check out the music video for Drink:
Walk the Plank is one of the heavier tracks on the album, bordering on speed metal. However, it is not a typical metal song. It begins with a keyboard piece reminiscent of herald trumpets sounding as a ship leaves port on its way out to sea. The beat is relentless, with fast double bass and a pounding snare, accompanied by the speedy chugging of metal guitar chords.
Several of the songs are adventure anthems, telling songs of adventures in the old bardic tradition. All are classic power metal, some heavier than others. Magnetic North is a great adventure tale as told in the lyrics, “for blood and gold, we sold our souls.” Mead from Hell describes mead brewed by a man named Fred, which is brewed with ingredients including psychotropic herbs with, “the alcoholic proof (it’s through the roof).”
Alestorm changes it up with Wooden Leg, a song with a certain punk influence. The vocals are short and choppy. The song is under three minutes in length, the shortest on the album. It has a repetitive chanting chorus, reminding me of Stormtroopers of Death.
Hangover is cover of the Top 40 dance tune by Taio Cruz. The subject matter is appropriate for this album, one with several songs about drinking. As for the Alestorm version of this dance classic, they offer up an interesting remake. It is definitely metal with a double bass run on the chorus, though the feel of the original song is still apparent.
1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) chronicles an amphibious naval battle between Britain and Spain on the coast of modern-day Columbia. The result was a crushing defeat for the British. The song is a long one at over seven minutes in length, though not the longest on the album. It is a good song and will satisfy those who enjoy lyrics based on historical events.
Sunset on the Golden Age, the title track for the album, is the longest track on the album at nearly eleven and a half minutes. It has elements of a traditional Scottish reel, the type of tune to entice a man to the sea or to raise a rapier in battle. The song describes the passing of piracy’s golden age in the late 17th century and early 18th century, acknowledging that, “legends pass and time ticks on.” The song is an epic, not just for its length but its overall composition. It has the feel of an epic bardic tale, similar to that of Iron Maiden’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Overall, it is a solid metal album. It is heavy and driving, with catchy hooks to pull the listener in. The genre and drama associated with the pirate theme give a quirky appeal, making it fun for almost any person, including those who don’t normally listen to the metal genre. The release, as a whole, is well produced.
This album, distributed by Napalm Records, is their fourth studio release. Alestorm has also released four EP’s, one live album, and five music videos.
The band consists of Dani Evans (Guitars), Christopher Bowes (Vocals, Keyboards), Gareth Murdock (Bass, Backing Vocals), Peter Alcorn (Drums), and Elliot “Windrider” Vernon (Keyboards).
Sunset on the Golden Age track listing:
1. Walk the Plank
3. Magnetic North
4. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)
5. Mead from Hell
6. Surf Squid Warfare
7. Quest for Ships
8. Wooden Leg
9. Hangover (Taio Cruz Cover)
10. Sunset on the Golden Age