There are few bands that cause so much debate within the folk metal subgenre as ALESTORM. Are they folk metal? Is pirate metal a genre? Do they have any musical talent at all? The British band will be releasing their 6th full-length album “Curse of the Crystal Coconut” on the 29th of May and I’m here to tell you a bit about it.
ALESTORM have developed a habit of including one or two “sell-out pop songs,” as they call them, and this album is no exception. It opens with “Treasure Chest Party Quest” and while earlier songs like “Drink” or “Mexico” have managed to walk the line between cringe and fun, this one really does fully go into cringe territory. It is annoyingly catchy, but you really don’t want it stuck in your head. However, ALESTORM – and especially Chris Bowes – really love pushing the boundary of ridiculousness and seeing how much they can get away with so my bet is they’re fully aware of just how annoying this song is.
Luckily, the album gets a lot more classic ALESTORM-like from here on (apart from one disastrous exception, which I’ll talk about shortly). “Fannybaws” is an ode to a great Scottish pirate and I can only imagine why that’s his name. If you don’t know what the word means, I envy you. The track is really fun – it even has a guitar solo and will work splendidly in a live setting. I’m sure Bowes just really likes the idea of the entire crowd screaming “fannybaws.”
“Chomp Chomp” opens with a pretty cool melodeath vibe and keyboards and actually continues a fast-paced tempo throughout the song, spearheaded by Peter Alcorn‘s drumming and some fun guitar work from
Máté Bodor. The album has numerous noticeable guest appearances, with Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns of FINNTROLL doing some vocals on this song in the latter part. There is also an interesting addition in the form of a hurdy-gurdy, which is played by Patty Gurdy throughout the entire album.
Remember when I mentioned the disastrous exception? Well, we’re at it now and it’s called “Tortuga,” the second single from the album. This track is just downright bizarre and I don’t understand it. There’s a rap bit from Captain Yarrface of RUMAHOY. Why is there a rap bit? I don’t know, but I am going to ignore this song and try to forget it exists.
The core of the album is made up of three fairly typical ALESTORM songs, “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship” (as they do) is just as ridiculous as it sounds, but it has some vocal diversity with Patty Gurdy singing a verse and the keyboardist, Elliot Vernon, utilizing his screams. “Call of the Waves” somehow really feels like it could be a Eurovision hit if the vocals were more mainstream-friendly and “Pirate’s Scorn” is a very happy tune about an angry pirate, which you can sing with your dwarven friends. It just sounds like dwarves would sing it, don’t ask me why.
Next up is an intermezzo of sorts, although that is entirely too classy of a word for “Shit Boat (No Fans),” a play on ALESTORM‘s Instagram description, which has been “shit band, no fans” for a while now. Following that, “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew” is one of the weakest songs on the album as there’s just little that’s interesting about it and it feels lazy and uninspired.
Finally, we’re at the highlight of the album, “Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening),” a continuation of the much-awaited “Wooden Leg” storyline from the album “Sunset on the Golden Age.” The track starts with a fairly epic movie soundtrack feel and then goes off into actual death metal, which made me check if I didn’t accidentally put on “KATAKLYSM,” before going back to a more standard ALESTORM sound. The eight-minute song has guest appearances from Kaelhakase & Tatsuguchi from JAPANESE FOLK METAL and Fernando Rey from AFTERPAIN; all narrating in their native languages. It’s genuinely pretty interesting and I’d really love to see ALESTORM play this in a live setting as it seems like it’d be great fun. The album finishes with a tragic ballad “Henry Martin” about a Scottish lad, having to provide for his two older brothers as he becomes a robber, defeats a rich merchant ship, and on that note finishes the sixth chapter in the chronology of ALESTORM‘s more-or-less nautical adventures.
So what to say to encapsulate this record? I think it’s pretty much what we expected from ALESTORM, but it does come off as a bit lazy in quite a few parts and the band seems to be continuing toward being more and more of a troll act. Of course, there’s only so much one can say about pirates, rum and the sea and ALESTORM has never been a band that focuses on quality, but rather seeks to entertain and just does the most chaotically fun thing possible. In that way, the album will probably be a success and will result in many more yellow rubber ducks being torn apart.
Written by Didrik Mešiček
- Treasure Chest Party Quest
- Chomp Chomp
- Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship
- Call of the Waves
- Pirate’s Scorn
- Shit Boat (No Fans)
- Pirate Metal Drinking Crew
- Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)
- Henry Martin
Christopher Bowes – vocals, keytar
Gareth Murdock – bass
Máté Bodor – guitar
Peter Alcorn – drums
Elliot Vernon – keyboards
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