Review: Alestorm – No Grave But The Sea

A-HARRR! OK, now that’s out of the way… Pirate metallers extraordinaire Alestorm release album number five on May 26th, from which we’ve already heard a couple of samples such as the eponymous number embedded down the bottom. Have they managed to keep the pirate flag flying high after threatening that they were “Scraping the Barrel” two albums ago?

The opening, title, track is OK… until it hits the chorus and then the bouncy shanty fun begins, as good as anything they’ve ever done. This is surpassed by the excellent “Mexico”, another track they’ve released a video for. There’s another outing for the chiptune intro on this one, but once the main song kicks in you have an instant tequila-soaked earworm.

“To The End Of The World” is this album’s epic number, though not quite to the extent of “Sunset on the Golden Age”. Throwing some death metal style backing vocals into the mix, there’s a definite hint of Gloryhammer with the rousing trumpet tones, too. Not the finest track on the album, but when you’re a band whose weakest album track is as good as this, you know you’re onto a rum-drenched winner.

After five albums, the band have finally named a track after themselves and it’s one deserving of the name. No messing about with the jiggy, pirate dance intro followed by some shouty vocals and then a kickass collection of lyrics ensuring you know exactly what it means to be “Alestorm”. “Bar und Imbiss” is another song with lyrics well worth listening to. Very much a drinking, it’s got some good riffs and rhythms. With a chorus that should have audiences waving from side to side waving tankards in the air, this could be anothe live favourite.

The highlight of the album, though, is the utterly childish and peurile “Fucked With An Anchor”. The lyrical inspiration for this was obviously gleaned from listening to children engaging in cheerful play in the arse end of Glasgow. There is no song on the album more catchy, silly, or likely to make you grin as you dance around the house. While the children are out. My wife has informed me in no uncertain terms what will happen to me if I play this one in the car while I’m driving the kids around…

How do you follow the gently lunacy of that? You ramp up the pace and get all widdlesome on the guitar with “Pegleg Potion”. Another dust-coated tale culled from the history of the Alestorm crew about another mystery brew which does bad things to you. So, like rum then.

“Man the Pumps” is another big-sounding song with an epic opening. Something Alestorm have nailed with No Grave… is “songs you can jig to”. I swear the jig quotient is higher on here than any previous release. Someone needs to come up with official dances. Anyway, this is a song about pumping. I’ll leave you with that.

We draw close to the end with “Rage of the Pentahook”, another fast-paced stormer with a brilliant singalong chorus. It leads in the near 8-minute long “Treasure Island”, a song title it’s surprising it’s taken them five albums to use. Typically brash for a closing Alestorm track, it twiddles and thunders through without seeming as long as it actually is. Again, great lyrics on top of some great pirate-themed metal music.

The one thing missing from this album that was present on the last two is an indication that the band are calling it a day. After the hint of “Scraping the Barrel” and the vision of the sun setting on a Golden Age there’s nothing on No Grave But The Sea to indicate that there won’t be a sixth release. Whether this is accidental, the band being sick of answering “So is this the last one?” questions, or a double bluff so we get blindsided by a forthcoming split-up, I don’t know.

What I do know is that – barring “Anchor” *sob* – the album’s been on loop play in the house and car for a week now. A great and worthy addition to the Alestorm cannon/canon and worth its weight in mead, rum or pieces of eight.

No Grave But The Sea is out on May 26th through Napalm Records

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