Monday, June 27, 2011

Alestorm - Back Through Time (2011)

What do you get when two crazy Scots and two Irishmen get together to form a band? You get true Scottish Pirate metal. No, this isn't a joke or a gimmick. This is Alestorm. You get all the energy and catchy tunes of folk metal, but with a nautical theme. And with this, their third full length album, the drunken crew travel "Back Through Time" to kill the Vikings. Avast, ye landlubbers!

The album's title track, "Back Through Time" sets sail this journey of metal. With shredding keyboards and guitars intertwined with lightning quick drum fills, these are no messy riffs. Unique instrumentation accentuates everything this band has to offer. Catchy chanting choruses will bring a smile to your face, while the punishing blast beats keep your head moving. Lyrical content is hilarious, but well written. The Vikings best beware. Evil guitar shredding launches the first single, "Shipwrecked". An accordion plays the melody while distorted guitar chords ring out. Raspy, accented lyrics are unleashed in droves, telling the tale of a shipwreck on a far island. Keyboards provide horns and synths, which are the perfect addition to this folk piece. The band showcase heavier moments with a chugging, thrashing, chanting breakdown.

"The Sunk'n Norwegian" is a track that would delight fans of the pure folk stylings of Korpiklaani. A jaunty tune, giving you something to do a jolly dance to. Gang vocals in the chorus could be a karaoke night gone wild. All the while, guitars crunch through verse and chorus, lead by pipes and horns. The dangers of drinking are clear! Leave it to these crazy pirates to work in a song about little people with the drum heavy "Midget Saw." These drums rolls and beats could fill in any thrash band across the world. Winding guitar chords and slamming bass highlight the uptempo stomp. A blazing solo ties it all together, putting a bow on this tiny tale.

The band powers through punk thrash tracks, like "Buckfast Powersmash," as well as the epic sea tale of "Scraping The Barrel." They kick through their favorite topic in "Rum," a song that is, in fact, about the drink itself. Guitars chug away through the horns, drum fill after drum fill. They proclaim, "The time has come, the time for a drink!" This is the type of song that could fill the pirate bars of the world. Guitar licks of the highest order take the spotlight on "Swashbuckled," with some boldly melodic results. The song has an air of triumph, of victory. Upbeat, uptempo and fun.

The band manage to a seven second song, titled "Rumpelkombo." This is a one breath affair, leading right into "Barrett's Privateers." This is pirate folk at it's best with gang vocals, precise drum beats and flowing guitar riffs. But, above it, it is a song to raise your drink to, in the style of so many brilliant folk pieces before it. A heavier midsection, complete with blistering guitar solo, makes this more than just a pub favorite. "Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid" starts as if it were a Blind Guardian track, blaring horns and shredding guitars first. But this is an epic tale of a deep sea beast, complete with the Scottish accent. Storytelling is a delight, albeit a farfetched kind of story. Keyboards are the star, providing everything from horns to strings.

Bands like Alestorm are often dismissed as a joke taken too far. But there is more than meets the eye here. You just have to be willing to hit play, sit back, and enjoy a different side of metal. For as heavy and emotional as death, doom, or black metal can be, there is still a place for the lighter side. And, every now and then, it is worth taking the time to enjoy a good yarn about wenches, brew, and beasts.


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