Pirates, drinking and time-travel

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Pirates, drinking and time-travel

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A fast-paced accordion sets off the tune with a deliberately piratical feel to it. It’s upbeat and jaunty, and immediately gives way to a power metal guitar. This isn’t a joke, and you aren’t hearing things. This is Alestorm.

 
Hailing from Scotland, the band got together in 2004 under the name Battleheart. Their newest album, “Sunset on the Golden Age,” dropped in the fall of August 2014.

 
One of the first things I noticed upon listening to this album is how pumped up it made me feel. In the song “Drink,” the lyrics talk about doing typical piratical things, like robbing and the aforementioned drinking. But when the chorus comes around, the guitar suddenly joins with the lyrics and it all meshes together beautifully.

 
If you’ve ever listened to the Dropkick Murphys, you’re probably pretty familiar with that Celtic influence of pipes and accordions. Alestorm takes it to a whole other level, with a ridiculous amount of keytar and accordion solos.

 
If you aren’t sure if you like metal, of any kind, I’ve found that this is a good introduction to the genre. The music is pretty fast paced and there’s a heavy drum beat, but as far as typical metal goes, this is a good way to ease in, and there isn’t much screaming that I’ve noticed. Besides, who doesn’t want to hear the adult version of pirate music?

 
This album is great, I think, because I just get such a feel-good vibe from it. There is an entire song dedicated to drinking and pillaging in this album, which also contains a sweet accordion-keytar breakdown. The history lessons hidden in some of the songs are a weird but welcome addition. In “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena),” there are numerous references to a famous Caribbean Sea battle.

 
And oddly enough, the song heads off with a very Super Mario-esque sounding keytar solo, which then launches into a staccato drum studded guitar solo. The first time I heard this song, I started unconsciously bobbing my head to it. As with most of their songs, lead singer Christopher Bowes’ raspy voice adds to the overall pirate vibe, throwing in a few rolled Rs just for added color.

 
The biggest reason I love this album is the guitar work. I am such a big sucker for guitar excellence and Alestorm has it in spades. “Sunset on the Golden Age,” which is both the album name and ending song, is 11 and a half minute of pure awesomeness. Just when you think the song is over, the guitar picks back up and the ride continues.

 
One of the funniest things about this album are the song titles. There are a great deal of the typical piratical names, like “Drink,” “Walk the Plank,” and “Mead from Hell.” But my favorite title of the whole album is a song called “Surf Squid Warfare,” a song of murder and time travel. The best part of the song is the chorus when they sing, “We’re class! You’re not!/Let‘s kill some squids and make them rot/With pirate powered murder skills/The future’s where we get our thrills/A shot to the heart with a flintlock gun/And mash their brains with a bottle of rum.” Doesn’t that just sound deliciously piratical?

 
In a departure from their own original work, or perhaps continuing their theme, there is a cover of Taio Cruz’s song “Hangover,” which has to be one of the greatest covers I’ve ever heard. The lead singer has a raspy voice coming into the song over a heavy baseline, which then kicks off into a furious drum line. In fact, the only thing really “metal” about this song is the heavy drumline; everything is just a good rager rock song.

 
I’ve never been a metal fan, and I’m still not sure I will be. But I will continue to listen to Alestorm and this album in particular, because why can’t I get pumped up and laugh at the same time?

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