(2020) Alestorm: Curse of the Crystal Coconut

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Artist: Alestorm
Album: Curse of the Crystal Coconut
Release: 29.05.2020
Label: Napalm Records

 

Pirate metal is no novelty these days, thanks to Scottish pirate-themed metal band Alestorm. Debuting on the scene back in 2008 with the not-very-subtly titled Captain Morgan’s Revenge. Now returning with their sixth studio album, Curse of the Crystal Coconut, set for release via Napalm Records on May 29th, 2020, it was worth our while to see what this comedic band would come up with next.

 

The album opens with the nonsense single, “Treasure Chest Party Quest,” a song that may seem like a total goof at first, “gangsta pirate metal” as the phantom suggested, but it could also be a response to the haters saying, stop taking us so seriously, singing about how they’ve sold out and are only here to “drink rum” and “get lit.” One way or another, it’s a catchy, silly song and Alestorm fans will surely not have any trouble dancing to it. Also, props to guest violinist Ally Storch [Subway to Sally] who absolutely shreds in this song. The main takeaway is that they’re here to have fun (and really, so am I).

“Fannybaws,” as I understand, translates to something like “stupid little idiot” from Scottish English into the English that everyone understands*. A song about a fearsome pirate who is the scourge of the seas, this is a more straightforward metal song in true Alestorm manner though the content is still campy as hell. “Chomp Chomp” is one of those songs that you see the name and immediately wonder, “I wonder where they’re going to go with this.” The answer is, naturally, crocodiles. Oh yeah, it’s still weird but for a moment I found myself wondering if I’m out of my mind or is Alestorm kind of awesome now. Even the ever-skeptical phantom found itself rather delighted by the music, like if Ensiferum and Hevisaurus were the same band. From what I understand, Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns of Finntroll fame can be heard in this track as well!

“Tortuga” has an intriguing and epic beginning but quickly takes an unexpected turn into… I want to say… hip-hop metal? This song is pretty baffling and there’s a lot going on. Christopher Bowes is perhaps more speak-singing than strictly singing but there is a rap part courtesy of Captain Yarrface [Rumahoy]. Because that’s apparently a thing that we all know exists now. Bowes? You and your crew should be ashamed of yourselves! I’m ashamed of myself because I didn’t hate it, largely because of the catchy heavy groove.

Once we’ve gotten past the album’s low point, so to speak, we hit filler territory with “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship,” which starts out folky and fun but doesn’t experiment very much and gets a bit too repetitive towards the end with its very simple shanty melody. However, there’s a pretty steady rise in quality as “Call of the Waves” is more of a legitimate metal track with its funky accordion sound and strong drumming that lead up to a nicely singalong-able chorus. “Pirate’s Scorn” is a fun shanty about feeling a pirate’s scorn with a straightforward riff that suits the pirate-y vibe. There’s also a pipe of some sort at the very end, because why not?

“Your pirate ship can eat a bag of dicks,” introduces the cleverly named “Ship Boat (No Fans),” which is named for the band’s Instagram account that sports the delightful description, “Shit Band, No Fans.” I could speak more about this track but the aforementioned lyric more or less speaks for itself. In keeping with this style, “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew” is the casual heavy drinking fan song for their “crew,” about how they don’t give a fuck and think you all suck.

Wooden-legged footsteps approach, leading to an impressively symphonic intro as well as some extreme metal intensity as “Wooden Leg pt. 2 (The Woodening)” begins. The most traditionally “metal” song on the album, it contains parts reminiscent of the more dramatic, old school side of Turisas and some great harsher vocals, as well as guest contributions from Kaelhakase and Tatsuguchi of Japanese Folk Metal and Afterpain’s Fernando Rey. Lyrically, of course, it’s still silly pirate nonsense, but I don’t think anyone goes to Alestorm for lyrical depth anyways. Lastly, for my fellow geeks out there, there are chiptunes in this song that are put to impressively good use.

The album finishes with a more traditional folk song, “Henry Martin.” There are a few moments that put the band in a pirate-Korpiklaani sound and ends the album on what could be imaged as a drinking song from a port city tavern.

 

For someone who’s not very into Alestorm, this album was pretty enjoyable on the whole. While there was a bit of a filler, most of the campy songs were fun or weird enough to be entertaining and the more straightforward metal songs did a good enough job to prove that the band aren’t a total joke. Having had such a good time at their live show last year, who knows, I may have to admit that I like this band one of these days.

Rating: 8.5/10, 4 stars

Tracklist:
1. Treasure Chest Party Quest
2. Fannybaws
3. Chomp Chomp
4. Tortuga
5. Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship
6. Call of the Waves
7. Pirate’s Scorn
8. Shit Boat (No Fans)
9. Pirate Metal Drinking Crew
10. Wooden Leg pt. 2 (The Woodening)
11. Henry Martin

*only teasing, Scots, you know I love your dialect

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