Review Summary: Alestorm show that there’s more to this pirate lark than just wenches, treasure and ale.
It’s been clear from the outset that Alestorm
don’t take themselves that seriously. They write songs about finding buried treasure and drinking mead, they use a hell of a lot of keytar, and their singer sounds like a drunken sea captain in a harbour-side tavern. Their debut, Captain Morgan’s Revenge
, was one of the funnest and most anthemic albums to be released in a long time, featuring ten songs designed to make you raise your tankard of ale and sing to the early hours of the morning. Their second album Black Sails at Midnight
builds on the foundations laid by their debut while showing signs of progression and maturity, both in their songwriting and musicianship.
This is most evident in the fifth track To the End of Our Days
, about a pirate’s last words as he dies a lonely death out at sea. It’s not massively poignant stuff but it’s certainly a welcome change from their usual subjects of ale and treasure. Similarly is the other ‘epic’ on the album Chronicles of Vengeance
, a song about a captain looking for revenge after he is betrayed by some of his crew. Once again, it’s a welcome change that shows that there’s more to their pirate theme than we first thought. Lyrics such as:
Another day goes by, another setting sun
As the light begins to fade
Upon this silent ship I now chart a course
Yet no wind blows these tattered sails
For reasons lost to time, that I cannot recall
Alone I sail the endless seas
The hands of fate have slain the crew, my only friends
And soon this doom will come for me
…show some progression from their old days of singing about finding taverns with “mighty fine beer
” and buying treasure maps from “an old man with a hook for a hand
”. Granted, the pirate theme means that they’re still slightly cheesy, but it must be quite tough to write somewhat poignant lyrics with an OTT gimmick, and to Alestorm’s credit they’ve done the best they possibly could.
However, this IS an Alestorm album
, which means that there are a few songs which aren’t all that serious. That Famous Ol’ Spiced, The Quest, Keelhauled
, and their cover of Wolves of the Sea
all hark back to the lyrical topics of their debut: beer, sailing the oceans, and looking for treasure. All four tracks are great fun, complete with chanted choruses, catchy keytar melodies and perfectly executed pirate vocals courtesy of Christopher Bowes. Truth be told, there really aren’t any bad songs on Black Sails at Midnight
, with the exception of the instrumental No Quarter
, which just becomes repetitive and boring by the end of it’s three minute length.
Overall though, it’s impossible not to like Black Sails at Midnight
. It may not be the most intelligent, technical, or emotionally deep album in the world, but it sure is a lot of fun. And really, what more could you ask for from these True Scottish Pirates?
That Famous Ol’ Spiced
Black Sails at Midnight
Wolves of the Sea