No Grave But the Sea

rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. No Grave But the Sea
02. Mexico
03. To the End of the World
04. Alestorm
05. Bar und Imbiss
06. Fucked With an Anchor
07. Pegleg Potion
08. Man the Pumps
09. Rage of the Pentahook
10. Treasure Island

Any coincidence that buccaneer metal band ALESTORM is dropping its new album the same month Disney releases "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales"? Even more suspect, both ALESTORM and Disney drop their mutual fifth installments this time around, wouldn't you say? Well, Disney's hardly interested in hijacking boorish metal music into their PG-13-interpretation of the seven seas. Funny, since the keelhauling within the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films has been pretty jacked, all considered, so a little splash of metal would make a righteous kraken roar. Then again, ALESTORM hardly makes its case for inclusion when shoving a song called "Fucked With an Anchor" on its latest round of ocean-mosh shanties, "No Grave But the Sea".

Whether you favor rum or Belhaven Ale, or both, the Scottish quintet makes no bones—other than maybe those gnawed upon by dead sailor smorgasbord hunters of the deep—when the group describes its nutty brand of metal as, "stupid songs about getting drunk and stealing treasure." Just the right menu for many, and probably the same horde that gets off watching Viking re-enactors pound their shields to pulp in front of THRYFING, while saluting the staged insanity with replica horn flasks. You basically do the same thing to more sanitized effects when purchasing a ticket to Medieval Times.

Vocalist Christopher Bowes is the lone remnant from ALESTORM's early years. Throughout the title track, with brass and violin lofting the brisk march, he still yowls about leading his agents of slaughter over blue horizons. The opening to "Mexico" thereafter is beyond goofy with a Nintendo digi-spritz setting up a rousing summons to Central America in search of margaritas and a land with no ice and snow. Can't you just hear President Trump swinging the chorus of "Yo-ho Mexico!" in secret right now?

Even if you're new to ALESTORM, within the first two songs you'll have the rest of the album figured out, as ""No Grave But the Sea" sails with one rudder-splashing metal traipse after another. Really, there have been three times the number of members having played in ALESTORM than songwriting variations. However, the band's lewd game has been refined a smidge to the point "To the End of the World" is nearly progressive with its numerous instrumental solos. Christopher Bowes's eventual screeching undoes all the classy tin whistles, accordions and horns; still, if you like to play fantasy pirate at your local Ren Fest, this is absolutely your jam.

How it's taken this long for the band to come up with its own theme song is befuddling, honestly, but "Alestorm" decries its manifest of rum, beer, quests and mead—these are the things a pirate needs, don'tcha know—with a heading aimed straight for the nearest party. The only surprising element to "Alestorm" is more agro crunch than the band has employed in the past. Having no doubt followed its compass toward an obliging pub, the band members sway their mugs and pint glasses with all the prerequisite braggadocio on ""Bar und Imbiss".

Thus, we draw upon the inevitable bar brawl on "Fucked With an Anchor", which yields a chorus as bloody dumb and bloody shameful as Disney's undead hybrid fish-men. You know these "fuck" nuggets were penned strictly for the live show sing-along: "Fuck you, you you're a fucking wanker, we're going to punch you right in the balls. Fuck you, with a fucking anchor, you're all cunts, so fuck you all!" Call Johnny Depp's agent right now for a bitchin' team-up: that brother plays guitar on top of slapstick pirate.

You're either sold on this scurvy mess to the point you'll forget to put down your brew en route to the pit once the speedy whirlpool opening "Pegleg Potion" whips into action, or you're not. If you think about it, THE POGUES are indirectly responsible for this popularized theme of folk-borne rock drinking ditties. Before KORPIKLAANI, before FLOGGING MOLLY and of course, before ALESTORM, there was "Red Roses for Me" and "Rum Sodomy & the Lash". For a society that collectively turns Irish and Mexican each respective St. Patty's Day and Cinco de Mayo, we're grossly obsessed with belonging to that which we don't, namely for the excuse to get tossed. What ALESTORM does is heavier and ruder, but the intent is just the same, whether you're taking down a black spiced rum shot or belching into the froth of a killed oatmeal stout. If you don't drink, that's all well and good; this just isn't the band for you.

Author: Ray Van Horn, Jr.
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