Alestorm plays “Pirate Metal”

Tales of the high seas, plunder and mutiny fill their Alestorm’s songs. Amongst the rum, wenches and epic ballads of debauchery, there’s a simple formula that works and works well. “Pirate metal” was destined to occur the very moment a vibrating wire first bludgeoned a magnetic field.
Shanties and keytar combine with the occasional trumpet, fiddle and synths, then throw themselves into the traditionally brutal thrashing guitar, bass and drum. Modern riffs combine with whimsical tales of adventure, providing an atmosphere which allows  drunken sing-alongs or an energizing start to the day.
One of the signature motifs of Alestorm is locking onto the epic tones ingrained in the modern consciousness by movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” In fact, they  sample the theme for the Black Pearl in their song “Black Sails at Midnight.” At other times, Scottish folk infused with shanty jigs break between the crashing waves of guitar. Alestorm sounds like the imagined pirates they dress up as in photo shoots and, occasionally, their live shows. Certainly they don’t take themselves too seriously, Their draw is fun above all else.
This Scottish group of swashbuckling drunks released a somewhat aptly-named album last week:  “Sunset on the Golden Age.” Overall, the album satisfied my thirsty void of a belly, but sadly the whole ordeal tasted more of cheap potato-liquor than the sweet rum I had anticipated.
“Sunset On the Golden Age” opens in fanfare. “Walk the Plank” is a simple song  with a tale that is told in its title. This is followed by a tune called  “Drink,” which is catchy but suffers from lyrical repetition that is difficult to excuse. Even worse was “Wooden Leg,” which, although it is set to a silly story, left me bored with the lead singer’s apathetic chanting. Certainly the worst part of the album was a cover of Taio Cruz’s song “Hangover,” which sounded as if the original song had smoked three packs unfiltered and was then welcomed aboard with no questions to hide amongst the crew.
It seems that this repetition might be a symptom of the style of performance their live shows generally take on. The audience often shouts along with the band. Having these chants may see to it that the band is more engaging live than they have been.
In comparing Alestorm’s performance, specifically the lead Christopher Bowes, at Wacken in 2008 and  later in 2013, it appears to my eye that the act of piracy is wearing thin.
The album seems to suffer from that situation in which a simple idea is reprocessed and packaged without the dedication of those who initially spawned the plot. This is a tired complaint in the modern music scene amongst massive record labels and festivals. I still enjoyed most of my time listening to “Sunset on the Golden Age,” but I can’t imagine the night will hold kind tidings for the band’s future work.