Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of shut up and be serious for a second. I’m reviewing the latest Alestorm album here. Alestorm being a band with two members who were caught being shit people in a band group chat. Not this band it should be noted, but Gloryhammer where they are also writers and sometimes performers. And it was bad stuff. Really horrible, let’s not downplay it bad, look up the specifics if you want to know the fine details. A band who totally deserves it if you no longer want to support them. So why am I still doing the review? I wasn’t sure if I would truthfully, but I don’t think whatever I have to say about them will have an impact on them or their success. Napalm Records were kind enough to give us a free copy of the album too, so we haven’t given them anything for the sake of the review. Thereth-foreth with the guidance of the Admiral of OTR I’m here to follow up on my “Curse of the Crystal Coconut ” review and see how “Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum ” compares. With the acknowledgement that Chris Bowes and Elliot Vernon are probably cunts. All I can do noo is give it an honest review too. Which might not be the glowing endorsement you expect if you read my last one.
What did I like about Crystal Coconut? Well, some of the songs were kinda nice. In fact, “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship ” was downright superb. Do any of the tracks on this album hit the same spot? I’m looking for big choruses, screaming axe handling, and fantastical stories the likes of which would send shivers up a peg leg. Track one gives us such things. “Magellan’s Expedition” makes for a strong opener, and indeed first single. Fans of Ghost or Sabaton may appreciate the questionably translated Latin language sections on this track. There’s something in this track that invokes the sounds of the band’s first two albums. Listening again it’s the horns. Very reminiscent of the kind of things heard on “Black Sails at Midnight ” or “Captain Morgan’s Revenge”. As Alestorm’s sound has evolved over their last albums I’ve wondered, what would the first albums sound like with their current budgets and production values? I think this song answers that question. The bridge sections are still very much what we’re used to from “No Grave” onwards so it is an interesting thing. Interesting to me anyway.
A firm favourite of mine from the prior album is “Wooden Leg, Pt. 2 (The Woodening)”. And hello, what’s this here stowed away behind the powder barrels in the hold at the very end of the album? Why it’s “Wooden Leg (Part III)! Is part III also the longest track on this album? Aye, cap’n. Does it also feature guest vocalists singing in Spanish and Japanese? Aye, cap’n. Is it the almighty kraken krushing, plank spanking, riggin’ raising finale to the saga I hoped for? Well…no, sir. I commented last time round that Alestorm tend to finish their albums on a slower, sometimes flatter note. Same thing here. The very first “Wooden Leg” was short a short, hardcore, kick in the captain’s quarters. Part 2 was an epic, eight minutes of black metal, chip tune, and folky power metal. This latest installation however is five minutes of mid-tempo chord chugging based around a chorus and two verses. I find it lacking in dynamics in a way that a longer song doesn’t benefit from. The duelling guitar/keyboard solo is the track’s highlight I’d say. It’s not dreadful I suppose it’s fine. I was hoping for more than fine though.
Cunning linguists will no doubt be aware of the album being sung in four different languages so far. That is English, Latin, Spanish, and Japanese. Surely, they aren’t squeezing another into thOH WOW here comes “Magyarország”. The sixth track of the seventh album celebrates the better parts of band guitarist Máté Bodor’s homeland, Hungary. The choruses are indeed sung in Hungarian, a language unlike any other in Europe. Luckily for glottophobes (pricks) the rest of the track is sung in something called “English ”. Now here’s a track you can groove to. The verses underpinned by a nice pirate metal disco drumbeat, the choruses galloping triumphantly into your ears like hussars. All bound together by the shout “Pálinka for everyone!”. Something I’m not sure I agree with after my own experiences with the plum brandy. The lyrics indeed weave their way through the ancient land. Taking us to Budapest, Lake Balaton, and Székesfehérvár (the nation’s ninth biggest city and capital of the Transdanubia region…obviously). Strong track, I think I’ll be returning to this one.
In my review of the band’s last voyage, I remarked that I didn’t want to hear any more heavy metal/reggaeton fusion tracks. I’d like to thank the band for listening to me there. Instead, we have…Heavy Metal Europop. And yes sir, I can dig it. “Seventh Rum of a Seventh Rum ” gives us “P.A.R.T.Y”. A synth laden party pop anthem. I can’t help but enjoy this one, it just hits a certain (black) spot. Alestorm aren’t shy of writing silly music, but silly music can still be great music, and this is great music. This is the kind of track that earns them a reputation as a “gimmick” band or as a “joke” by some. But elitists beware, I don’t care. Why are some moshers so opposed to fun? Metal is full of silly people playing silly music. Devin Townsend would be a certified nae richter if he didn’t wield a guitar, Dee Schnieder wore makeup and feather boas, Rob Halford used to ride a thundering Harley Davidson a grand 10 metres onto the stage. We can be fun-loving people and we can dance if we want to. Deal with it.
The aforementioned heavy metal/reggaeton track featured on “Crystal Coconut” was the divisive “Tortuga”. By the time I reviewed that album for OTR the track list for “Seventh Rum” was already announced. And on it, to my “delight”, was “Return to Tortuga”. I had hoped this wouldn’t be a second edition, half rap, half arsed attempted dancehall banger. And…it isn’t! So, is it the mighty epic quest we missed out on with “Wooden Leg Part 3”? No, it isn’t. Is it at least a second part to the first Tortuga in the vein of “Wooden Leg, Pt 2 (The Woodening)”? No, it isn’t that either. What is it then? It’s the same set of lyrics from “Tortuga” but with a straight up Pirate Metal backing track. I can’t wrap my head around that one. I know the band can write good songs, I commented on the band’s lyrics the last time. So why aren’t there more of them? I really wonder what the thought process was here. Is it meant to please those who didn’t like the first “Tortuga?”. If so, why bother? It’s already out there. Is it meant to be a “Fuck you” to anyone? If so, why bother? Just give us a new set of lyrics. I know they had it in them to write some.
I think this is the first time I’ve listened to an Alestorm album on release and not thought “wow, this is even better than the last one”. I think as well that if other bands had released this album, maybe a Powerwolf or even a Twilight Force, then I’d consider it a success. However, it falls a bit short as an Alestorm album. I’m not a producer, I’m not even a journalist, I’m a musician here to give a musicians view on music I suppose. I think this album has its strong tracks but would benefit hugely from a few new sets of lyrics and a change of track ordering. Is it worth listening to? If you can do so with a clear conscience I’d say so aye, but it isn’t the band’s magnus opus.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/