Review Summary: As predictable as another Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.
Alestorm is a rather unique band. Depending on who you believe, they’re one of the most enjoyable things a metalhead can hear or a monstrous conception that should have perished long ago. At the end of the day, one man’s folk metal treasure is another man’s insufferable excuse for immature gimmicks. Despite who’s side you’re on, there’s no denying that these swashbucklers have become notorious across the seas for their piratic take on folk metal. When a stereotype is pushed to an extent of no return, as Alestorm has done, you either dedicate yourself to it or no longer involve yourself with it at all. Do or do not.
Fortunately, Alestorm has refrained from maturing in any sense. This isn’t a band that’s going to delve into expansive soundscapes or pen the most emotionally identifiable lyrics anyone has ever heard; god forbid they ever should too. “No Grave but the Sea”
is Alestorm’s fifth offering and it is nothing more than another addition to their catalogue of rowdy, silly singalongs only with an increased presence of bravado and pomposity than their previous albums.
This increased bravado comes in the shape of the bountiful amounts of folksy instrumentation that Alestorm use on the album. Brass instruments such as trombone and trumpets are present on nearly every song to heighten the majestic, adventurous attitude. Relying heavily on sprightly trumpets than frolicking guitars more prominently than any other track, “Bar ünd Imbiss” is the slowest track on the album. In contrast, the brass and violins on “Man The Pumps” swiftly sail side by side with Máté Bodor’s guitars to create an anthemic, stimulating atmosphere. All this swagger enhances the cinematic sound that Alestorm conjures. Even if someone has not heard of the band, one can't help but think of pirates ravaging, marauding and pillaging across every compass point when hearing this music.
“No Grave but the Sea”
contains only 2 ingredients: pirates and fun. This album is nothing more than that. Everything sounds completely care-free and authentic but the band doesn’t sound pretentious as all the album only does is exactly what it was set out to do- to entertain. Every chorus is as infectious as scurvy and paired with the jolly keytar riffs, “Mexico” features the biggest singalong of the album telling tales of tequila, cacti and donkeys, naturally. “Alestorm”- the track- features harsh vocals during the dramatized moments but aside from this, there is plenty of rallying riffs and an infectious chorus describing the necessities of being a pirate. “***ed with an Anchor” encapsulates everything about Alestorm. Christopher Bowes’ profane lyrics are totally outrageous and they’re amusingly contrasted against the cheerful acoustics behind the explicit obscenities. Any other band would be under heavy scrutiny if they dared to do this sort of thing but for this bunch of buccaneers, the ludicrous theatricalities are entirely acceptable.
Alestorm’s next album will most likely sound as similar as this one does to the rest of the back catalogue. Knee deep into their own theatricality that no matter how hard their wooden legs kick, there’s no way of the band ever moving forward. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Alestorm is one of those bands who sound so irresistibly fun that their silliness makes even the most depressing, elitist, corpse paint-wearing, spiked gauntlet-waving fans give in to temptation and say “Oh alright, go on then…” Repetitive and foolish as “No Grave but the Sea”
may be, it is simply an unjustifiable reason to jig.