The first track, “Magellan’s Expedition” is the best intro possible for this CD, with its infectious energy, catchy chorus sung by the entire band, fun mixture of raspy singing, clean singing and screaming, and its big, epic feel. It’s a song to go on an adventure to. Is the rest of the album equally full of fun adventures? Yes, for the most part.
The rest of the album has the Alestorm sound we’ve come to know and love: catchy power metal with raspy, gritty vocals, and melodies based on fast-paced sea shanties. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, but it’s made with enough talent and fun that it’s really enjoyable to listen to. How can you not love songs with choruses like “I’m a fucking pirate” (“The Battle of Cape Fear River”), especially when they’re accompanied by catchy and irresistibly fast riffs?
Other tracks are the same but more: “P.A.R.T.Y” is pop metal in the best way possible, being fun and highly energized, and using a pretty infectious industrial hook that spells out the title. “Cannonball” maybe the craziest song on the album: starting with a big “let’s go!” and including a chorus with “Yo-ho! Stick a cannonball up your cunt/put your dick in a mangler”, you know it’s going to be so over-the-top it’s on another plane of existence altogether. And that’s pretty catchy too.
Another track that’s crazy, in a different way, is the last track, “Wooden Leg (Part III)”, which is barely 6 minutes long but feels like the longest and most ambitious tracks on the album, with its pace changes, mixture of violins and guitars, melancholic power metal in Spanish for the first verse, and in Japanese for the second verse, and somewhat more melancholic Alestorm chorus in English. There’s a whole story, a whole character’s life in that song.
It’s different from the other tracks that I haven’t mentioned yet, which are mostly pirate metal anthems, usually energetic and fun enough to be pretty entertaining. “Under Blackened Banners” is like a mix of other previously described tracks, using an industrial intro and an epic power metal chorus, and even a screamed verse to give a pretty fun metalcore/melodeath touch.
The title track is one of the fastest track, having a wild, almost thrash metal rhythm, and another nice chorus. Having it as the seventh track may not be the greatest idea because at this point, I’ve already heard other tracks that sounded similar, and in many ways, more fun than this one, but it’s still a pretty catchy and enjoyable track. Oh, and it has a nice trumpet part. Other tracks like “Bite the Hook Hand that Feeds” also sound a little too much like the rest of the album. It’s enjoyable, but not as interesting as other tracks. “Return to Tortuga” also doesn’t have much going for it besides a very catchy chorus.
“Magyarország” is fun mostly because of its “pálinka for everyone” hook and chorus in Hungarian, which sounds pretty good in a power metal chorus. Along with “Wooden Leg” and its verses in different languages, it’s one of the album’s attempts at mixing different cultures into Alestorm’s musical stew, much like “Come to Brazil” and its imitation of Brazilian thrash (more Nervosa than early Sepultura).
This makes for a really fun album overall. Irresistibly catchy, and full of cool ideas. Sure, it has its weaker tracks, and I suppose you could accuse Alestorm of doing what they’re used to. But even with a weaker second half, it’s really worth it hearing the whole album, just to listen to “Come to Brazil” and “Wooden Leg (Part III)”. And the first half is really good, really fast and catchy, near perfection. When the worst thing I could say about your weaker tracks is that they sound like less interesting versions of better ones, but they’re still catchy, I think you’ve definitely made a good album. The good parts of the album are very, very good, they were made with creativity and with an infectious sense of fun and they’ll put you in a good mood. This was one of the most epic and fun pirate stories of the year.
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