Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Alestorm - Back Through Time

For a moment everyone on the ride thought there had been a mechanical malfunction.  One moment they’re slowly traveling through room after room celebrating Viking culture.  Then they enter a large open space featuring a miniaturized city besieged by a horde of Viking warriors; neatly laid out before their eyes.  All of a sudden the lights go out, the peaceful music disappears, and their pseudo-longship stops moving.  Moments later the lights come back on revealing four men dressed as pirates standing in front of the model city.  Two of them are holding guitars, another a keytar, and the last was behind a drum kit.  As if that were not strange enough a fifth man confidently strolled out in front of the others holding a microphone in his hand.  His voice was chilling.

“Avast ye land lubbers!  I be Captain Penfold.  Perhaps you’ve heard of me?”
The last statement was met with nothing but blank stares and puzzlement.
“None of ya recognize me?”
Again, not even so much as a nod.
“Yer honestly going to sit there in your little dinghy and tell me that ya never heard tell of the infamous Captain Penfold of the pirate ship Ripple?”
Silence.
“Shiver me timbers!  Of course ya don’t know about Captain Penfold.  Yer Viking teachers have hornswoggled ya out of a proper education!”
“Excuse me sir, but…”
“Don’t ye call me sir ya overgrown bilge rat!  Call me Captain Penfold.”
“Oh…uh…all right.  Captain Penfold?”
“Aye?  Speak up.”
“Are you going to hurt us?”
Captain Penfold turned around to address the other four pirates.
“Ya hear that maties?  This one wants to know if we be goin’ t’ keel haul ‘em.” 
The pirates all laughed heartily.  Captain Penfold turned back to the speaker.
“No ya spineless urchin.  Ye be safe from bodily harm.  Today we be here to teach ya some proper history.  The truth of the matter is that pirates be the true kings of the sea.  Not yer precious Vikings.  Nothing but a bunch of scallywags them.”
A young girl spoke up.  “Hey!  Don’t you talk about the Vikings that way you big meanie!”
This caused the pirates to convulse because they were laughing so hard.
“Ya hear that me hearties?  The little lass don’t want us to talk ill of her pox ridden Vikings.  Blimey, me thinks she be right!  The time for talk be over.  If there be one thing that’s known to me, it be that scurvy dogs like yerselves learn better if lessons be sung to ya.  Now pay close attention to me mates behind me.  When they play music they be called Alestorm.  Smartly now men!  It be time to rock!  Teach these uneducated swabs what really happened between Vikings and pirates back in the day!”

Do I ever have a treat for your ears today waveriders!  A few weeks back I was ordered to visit Napalm Records website.  My mission was simple.  I was to go through their extensive roster of acts in order to discover any bands I found interesting.  Now that’s my kind of assignment!  Being the dedicated music fanatic I am I immediately began my search.  Nothing against the first twenty bands I looked at, but none of them really jumped off the web page to grab my attention.  Then I found Alestorm.  First of all the artwork for the cover of their album, Back Through Time, was striking!  You just don’t see too many supernatural pirates adorning album covers nowadays.  On top of that their music was described as “Scottish Pirate Metal”.  Scottish pirate metal?  What?!?!  I had to know what that sounded like AT ONCE!

Brace yourselves people.  This music is a glorious mess!  It sounds exactly like what a band composed of pirates should sound like.  These brigands travel from port to port picking up musical elements to include in their own compositions.  The music is thrashy.  Oftentimes a traditional power metal sound, minus the operatic vocals, comes through loud and clear.  There is a strong folk metal backbone throughout.  It’s technically impressive.  During several song choruses there is the atmosphere of a beer hall filled with swashbucklers singing drunken fight songs.  Horns add bombast here and there.  The last song is epic black metal.  Like I said, this music is a mess.  I LOVE IT!  Yes, I said it.  I L-O-V-E this album!

Back Through Time is Alestorm’s third record to be unleashed upon the world.  True to their press bio, these four musical outlaws hail from Scotland.  Perth, Scotland to be exact.  Actually, that is not entirely factual.  Two of these men are indeed Scottish.  The other two however, are Irish.  Gasp!  I know!  It’s outrageous!  Ah well, since the music is so great I find this distinction rather trivial.  The jury has been instructed to disregard my last statement concerning the ancestry of the members of Alestorm.  I’m sorry I even brought it up.  Let’s talk about something else and forget this paragraph ever happened.  How about the lyrics?

Normally I’m pretty conservative in my assertions, but in this instance I guarantee that the lyrical content of these songs is vastly different than anything you waveriders are used to hearing.  Yes, there are many stories of battle sung across the whole spectrum of metal.  But unless I’m mistaken, those songs do not involve vicious pirate/Viking warfare.  Yes, there are countless songs about imbibing large quantities of alcohol.  No argument here.  What I don’t recall hearing until now is a song devoted strictly to rum.  Come to think of it, up until hearing Back Through Time I could count on one fingerless hand exactly how many heavy metal songs devoted to piracy or privateering that I had ever heard.  I had no idea what I was missing!

The bottom line waveriders is that Alestorm’s Back Through Time is one of the most enjoyable albums I have had the pleasure of listening to in quite a while.  Whether I’m furiously headbanging to songs like “Shipwrecked” and “Buckfast Powersmash”, or singing along with great abandon to “The Sunk’n Norwegian” and “Barrett’s Privateers” I’m having fun.  That’s right, fun!  Don’t you waveriders want to have some fun too?  Of course you do!  Pick up a copy of Back Through Time.  This album is worthy of being considered buried treasure.  Sorry…couldn’t resist.

--Penfold



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