Since leaving Battle Beast in rather acrimonious circumstances in 2015, Beast In Black guitarist and songwriter Anton Kabanen has done everything possible to challenge his former, more established bandmates, and with 2017s debut album Berserker (Nuclear Blast), he succeeded in no uncertain terms. With the two acts releasing stellar albums within a few months of each other, it would appear that Helsinki is definitely big enough for both bands, and that any bad blood that may remain between them is at least being channeled competitively into something creative and positive. Continue reading
For you uninitiated, Alestorm is what us pirate loving, rum swilling, sing-a-long hullabalooers listen to. Their newest disk is No Grave But The Sea (Napalm). To be sure, there is some nifty metal and folk music happening here. Alestorm is fun and competent, and that’s a dangerous combination! No Grave But The Sea is Alestorm’s sixth full length album and, in fact, another winner in the pirate metal album genre. Continue reading
In for a penny, in for a pound, right? And sometimes that dividing line between success or failure is just how far you’re prepared to take things. Power Metal, with its origins heavily rooted in the extravagances of Yngwie and embracing and taking the more bombastic elements of symphonic music and film scores, is often guilty of not going far enough, playing the safe game mixing Europe with Helloween and churning out decent, if standard, fast-rock fare. On their second album, Wardens of the West Wind (Scarlet), Wind Rose follow in the boot-prints of countrymen Rhapsody by ramping things to the max, and to some effect.
See, where Rhapsody made a name for themselves was by being brave enough to make their music and songs epic; as grandiose, as pompous, as couldn’t-give-a-fuck-what’s-cool as possible, and to think outside re-writing Blind Guardian licks to wanting to create something monumental, something cinematic, something befitting of the grandest of stages. Wind Rose have produced a stirring, rousing album in the vein of Symphony of Enchanted Lands (Limb) that sets them apart from the majority of the others who sit in the Power Metal bubble by taking that chance to do something different. The movie that Wind Rose are tracking is more nautical than Rhapsody’s swords-and-dragons fantasy, as if a hero quest head-on collision of Pirates of the Caribbean and Waterworld was sound-tracked by a collaboration of Symphony X and Luca Turilli.
Attack is another area where Power Metal bands stand or fall, and Wind Rose bring the energy of a thousand marauding pirates fuelled by rum and the promise of treasures great hidden under an X. Francesco Cavalieri’s voice leads the quintet and is another competitive advantage, capable of drama, authority and melody, and making sense of the grandiloquence going on around him, pulling the power and the might cascading around him into strong, viable songs.
In a field that consists of a handful of giants and many who will struggle to achieve a status above mediocrity Wardens… positions Wind Rose as one to watch. If their live show can re-capture the exuberance on record, we will have a new name to light up the European scene.
Scotland’s favourite purveyors of Pirate Metal, Alestorm, have once again sailed into port with a new album, Sunset on the Golden Age (Napalm). Keeping a shtick going after four albums is no easy task, but Alestorm do a fair job at showing there’s some life in the old sea dog yet.
Captained by Christopher Bowes (vocals & keytar) and his merry crew (Dani Evans – guitars, Gareth Murdock – bass, Elliot Vernon – keyboards and Peter Alcorn – drums), Alestorm have always had their critics and with Sunset on the Golden Age they’ve made an album that shows them at their best and worst.
The album’s lead single ‘Drink’ is the typical feel-good shanty you expect from the band with lyrics about alcohol, folky tones and shout-a-long choruses, it’s addictively catchy and good fun. Other early tracks such as ‘Walk The Plank’ and ‘Magnetic North’ are great, combining those folk elements with bombastic horns resulting in some of the most energetic music they’ve made in a while. Back Through Time‘s ‘Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid’ showed that the band could mix their Rum & Cutlass style with serious musical chops, and there’s a couple of moments on where they show the same of musical aspirations here.
The self-titled closing track is an ambitious 11-minute beast, while ‘1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)’ is easily the musical highpoint. A seven-minute multi-part epic, it shows the band have more to offer than gimmicks and can compete with the likes of Turisas and Korpiklaani when they want to. Sadly it’s mostly downhill from here.
‘Wooden Leg’ is a short sharp thrust of hardcore punk given a pirate makeover, while tracks such as ‘Surf Squid Warfare’ and ‘Mead from Hell’ add almost thrash elements to mix. While they aren’t terrible, they don’t stand up to the focus and quality of the first half of the record. Alestorm have a history of cheesy pop covers, and, depending on your point of view, their latest cover of Taio Cruz’s ‘Hangover’ is either a genius or downright awful. Horribly catchy, but sounding like a Nu-Metal meets Ibiza pop song, it’s completely at musical odds with the rest of the album but no doubt destined to become a sing along classic.
Though enjoyable, Sunset on the Golden Age is a mixed affair. It swings from high quality booty to Pirates of the Caribbean-esque clichés and cheap jokes, and generally lacks cohesion or consistency, much like a rum-soaked pirate in many respects. It won’t change your view on the band, but if you liked previous jaunts, this could just be the ship for you.