ALBUM REVIEW : ALESTORM — No Grave But The Sea
Alestorm is known far and wide as the party band you don’t want to miss if they ever come to pillage your town. Loved for their antics and involved live shows, they have seemingly spent the last 10 years working really hard to build such a reputation so that they could do literally ANYTHING they want and nobody would bat an eye. It's just Alestorm being Alestorm! Fans everywhere relish the ever-increasing ridiculousness that surrounds the band. Everything from selling signed toilet seats and poking fun at other bands (notably their ongoing friendly(?) feud with Turisas, and several jabs at Wintersun’s crowd-funding campaign), to most recently giving away “a year supply” of ham; not much is off-limits for the band, and their last album No Grave But The Sea is a testament to that.
As a whole, No Grave But The Sea is your typical Alestorm album: some high-octane questing tracks intercut with gritty songs about battered sailors’ mishaps. Questionable lyrics included. Underneath the finger hooks and inflatable ducks, they are a band of talented musicians who deliver some very solid folk(ish) metal. Unfortunately that sometimes gets lost on people who may take themselves too seriously to enjoy what the band has to offer. That was never an issue for Alestorm however, who just continues to pump out their unique brand of humorous pirate metal for the people who care to hear about treasures, wooden legs, sea monsters, rum, beer, quests, and mead.
The first single and video they released for No Grave But The Sea was for the 2nd track, a theme song aptly titled “Alestorm” in which they make great use of keyboardist Elliot Vernon’s harsh vocal talents (thus far relegated mostly to backing vocals). Tweaking the recipe they used for their immensely successful song “Drink”, the band brewed another boozy anthem that fans can’t wait to drunkenly chant in unison.
Alestorm - "Alestorm"
Actually, whichever songs from this album the band decides to play live will be a blast to belt out at shows (much to the dismay of the band who will have to hear our tone-deaf voices over the PA – so sorry), as every single song has a catchy chorus perfect for crowd participation.
The title track “No Grave But The Sea” as well as songs like “Treasure Island” and “Rage of the Pentahook” are intense bangers guaranteed to get the pit going strong, too. The album also boasts plenty of violin, trumpet, and of course keytars, as well as some noticeably different guitar work. After parting with their long-term guitarist Dani Evans in 2015, Alestorm recruited Hungarian guitar virtuoso Máté Bodor (All But One, ex-Wisdom, ex-Leander Kills) to join their ranks. The man affectionately known as Bobo carved himself a choice place in the band. This is his first album with them but his influence is audible, mainly in the form of solid solos that work wonderfully, especially with the heavier tracks.
The song “To the End of the World” reminds me of both “The Sunk’n Norwegian” and “Death Throes of the Terrorsquid” and is another song that should lay waste to venues worldwide if Alestorm decides to add it to their set list. Funnily enough, I get a strong “Holmgard And Beyond” feel at about the midway mark on this song - I’m not sure if that was done on purpose to take the piss out of Turisas, or if it’s a happy accident, but I really dig the dramatic edge that this song has. It’s also reminiscent of “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)”, one of my favourite songs from their previous album Sunset on the Golden Age.
It’s worth mentioning that for No Grave But The Sea, the Ridiculous knob has been cranked to 11. Formerly here to drink your beer, Alestorm is coming for your margaritas and tacos as they proclaim in the song “Mexico” with its catchy chorus and memorable video, but if you thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous than that, brace yourself for No Grave But The Sea For Dogs: a second disc replacing all the vocals with… dogs barking. While that’s a funny bonus, it’s probably not something people will listen to over and over. As far as the actual human language album goes, “Fucked With An Anchor” takes the WTF cake; a real earworm of a song with a chorus juvenile and foul even for the mouth of Chris Bowes.
Alestorm - "Fucked with an Anchor"
No Grave But The Sea is a killer addition to Alestorm’s arsenal, and with a busy summer of playing Warped Tour as well as several European festival appearances, followed by a European tour in the fall, it will be great to see which songs they decide to add to their live roster. This band was never afraid of being silly, rowdy, or generally offensive, and in typical Alestorm fashion they delivered both a high-quality record and a shot of humor much needed in this scene. And the no-fun-allowed, trve kvlt metal elitist police can get fucked with an anchor.
ALESTORM — No Grave But The Sea
Release date: May 26, 2017