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Published April 7, 2013

Listen to Headphones: Headphone Mike Reviews Pirate Folk Metal Band, Alestorm

When I was first being introduced to folk metal and discovering bands like Turisas and Korpiklaani, I heard about a concert featuring a band called Swashbuckle. I thought to myself, “This will be fun”.

Maybe an accordion and a violin with a metal setup featuring sea shanties? I can’t wait. The band was not what I had in mind. When the lead singer declared, “Yar, we be pirates, and we be from N’Jersey!” I threw up my hands and went back to the bar to get another drink so I could wait for the next band.

A few weeks later a friend of mine said, “Have you tried Alestorm?” Verily, here be the folk metal sound I be looking for.

Alestorm is often called pirate metal by fans, but they fall under the category of folk metal. After Immortal referred to themselves as, “True Norwegian black metal,” Alestorm calling themselves “True Scottish pirate metal.” Seems like a laugh. When I started listening to Alestorm they only had two albums that featured folk influence as well as clean vocals. Each song was it’s own story and I loved every minute of it. When Back Through Time came out, I ordered it immediately.

Back Through Time is the first track. It tells a story about Pirates that go back in time and fight Vikings on the open sea. This song was aimed at folk metal band Turisas, who represent the Viking lifestyle and tell Viking stories. Turisas, around the same time, released a song called Hunting Pirates which does the exact same thing. The two bands went on tour together, and I can only imagine the mosh pit at one of their shows.

Gareth_MurdockRum is a song about, well, drinking rum. I love the opening to this one. It’s so easy to imagine a bunch of Pirates sitting around a table singing this while they throw back drink after drink. Korpiklanni tries to do one song per album about alcohol of one kind or another. This track fits into that pattern pretty well.

Scraping the Barrel made me sad a little. I admit that this is their third album but this song basically admits that it’s getting harder and harder to come up with new lyrics. This track makes it sound like the band was thinking about retiring until the last few words, “When it comes time to write album four, we’ll scrape up the barrel once more.” Good job guys, keep on rocking.

Terror Squid is a long track that reminds me of Leviathan from their earlier album. It’s also one of the first times the band breaks character a little. When they talk about fighting ninjas I sighed a little and said to myself, “Yep, it finally happened.” Of all my days on internet forums the pirates vs. ninjas debate generates the most spam and the most well thought out yet insane answers. I once thought about going to one of their concerts in some sort of ninja costume but decided against it. Mosh pits can be dangerous places.

You are a Pirate is actually a cover of a track from the children’s television show Lazytown. This track made me laugh hysterically, especially since I know what the original people singing it look like. The only lyric that got changed was, “Yo ho, aye and avast, being a pirate is really badass, throw up the flag at the end of the mast.” This, of course, couldn’t be put on a children’s television show–no matter how much I’d like it.

Past Alestorm albums have delivered solid folk metal tracks and brought up visions of sword fights on the high seas and drinking the night away at port.

Their third album delivers, but not as well as the first two. My advice would be to check out their earlier work first. To get an idea of what they sound like with one song I recommend, “Over the Seas.” This track encompasses everything about that band that I have come to know and love.

Would listen to while plundering Spanish ships for their sugar cane and spices.

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  • Headphone Mike

    Mike

  • Known for his eclectic taste and talent for discovering rare musical gems, local music reviewer Headphone Mike shares his collection of lesser-known bands with strange, new sounds. All my articles.

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