Album review: ALESTORM – Curse Of The Crystal Coconut

Napalm Records [Release date 29.05.20]

The Perthshire pirates are back with more tales of the high seas told in their own special way, forget sea shanties we want metal! As per usual the album won’t be to all tastes, its funny and about as subtle as a 20 cannon broadside but you are guaranteed to end up with a smile on your face and searching the cupboard for a bottle of spiced rum.

‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’ opens the proceedings with a full-on metal romp and sets out the Alestorm manifesto, of getting drunk and having fun just in case anyone was in any doubt! I did mention that subtlety isn’t one of the band’s strong points and on ‘Fannybaws’ its akin to using a cutlass to perform keyhole surgery.

In Glasgow the term ‘Fannybaws’ has many uses, as a term of endearment ‘awright Fannybaws?’, as a means to attract someone’s attention ‘haw fannybaws’ or as a derogatory descriptive term someone who is a bit of an arse. Here it is the latter as the guys retell the tale of the pirate Fannybaws who isn’t the best loved of gents for his liking of pillage and the odd killing. Some of the lyrics may sound a bit alien to anyone outside the central belt of Scotland but you will get the idea.

If you have read Peter Pan or seen the film you will know that pirates and crocodiles don’t have the best of relationships and that very subject is examined on ‘Chomp, Chomp’. It turns out that Captain Hook was not the only one plagued with a reptilian foe and its best to avoid the multi toothed eating machines if at all possible, good life lesson there.

‘Tortuga’ takes us to far flung climes with a bit of rap thrown into the metal mix curtesy of Captain Yarrface from Rumahoy. More nonsense follows with ‘Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship’ which sounds like a Sun newspaper headline and that is then followed by ‘The Call Of The Waves’. This track has some great guitar work from Mate Bodor, especially towards the end of the track. It is easy to forget with the subject matter and the comedy lyrics that essentially Alestorm are a great band filled with excellent musicians and the song writing is top notch.

Things then take a celtic twist with the tale of ‘Pirate Scorn’ which bounces along on a great melodic riff that will have you dancing along like a man possessed. We then return to parental guidance territory with ‘Shit Boat (No Fans)’ which is a chorus of piratical insults hailed to another inferior vessel, not PC but it will make you laugh!

If you had to describe Alestorm to someone unfamiliar with the band then ‘Pirate Metal Drinking Crew’ tells them all they need to know! We then have a follow up track to Wooden Leg, the classic song which appeared on the band’s ‘Sunset On A Golden Age’ album. ‘Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)’ tells the tale of the hard life living with wooden limbs and expands on the initial tale of the traumatic events that led to the initial loss and the journey to avenge said loss with help of a bit of voodoo magic. This is a full on power metal romp which is gloriously overblown and contains a twist at the end…

The tale of the Scotsman ‘Henry Martin’ finishes off the album. One of three brothers he was sent to sea to support the family. This is a traditional folk song from the early 17th century which has been given an Alestorm reworking. Thankfully, the guys have gone for the shortened version of the track as the original tale stretched to 82 verses.

Christopher Bowes and his piratical crew have produced another cracking album. It won’t appeal to all tastes and if you didn’t like the band before then there is nothing here that will change your opinion. However for the legion of fans that have been willingly press ganged into the Alestorm crew over the years this album will be as welcome as a barrel of rum and a chest full of booty!  ****

Review by Dave Wilson

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