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Black Sails At Midnight
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The Scottish buccaneers stand ready to capture the wealth of the Seven Seas by offering a treasure chest of sweeping Scottish Pirate Metal worthy of any loot-loving corsair. Irresistible growling choruses from the port side and lively keyboard melodies and heavy metal riffs from the starboard side form the basis of this highly explosive rum-induced metal mix. The catchy tales of life on the high seas, including "Keelhauled" or "The Quest", use authentic instruments (violin, horns) to give these maritime jewels their final polish. Producer Lasse Lamert (LSD Studio) has given "Black Sails at Midnight" a unique and powerful sound, which earned him many a wench and much wealth from Captain Morgan's personal stash, while James Murphy, known for his outstanding work with Death and Obituary, took over the mastering responsibilities. Alestorm have hoisted the black sails...Let the raids begin!
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Black Sails at Midnight is everything Captain Morgan's Revenge was and more. The song writing, musicianship and lyrics have all matured. Sure, some silliness returns in the form a few cheesy lyrics which are funny in their delivery and context ("The hook of our captain is looking at you. There's no Peter Pan, so what can you do?"), but the stories sung out gruffly in full pirate gusto by front man Christopher Bowes are much more interesting and less generic than the previous album. Take, for example, "Pirate Song" in which an old pirate out of his prime, drunk and surrounded by empty beer glasses, reminisces a life of pillaging, womanizing and killing, and how he wishes he could go back and do it all over again.
And if you can somehow resist singing along to the chorus of 'That Famous Ol' Spiced' ("Oh pour me a slug of it, throw me a mug of it, bring me a jug of that famous ol' spiced") my hat is off to you, because I sure as hell can't for the life of me. The same goes for the chorus of 'Keelhauled': "Keelhaul that filthy landlubber, send him down to the depths below. Make that bastard walk the plank with a bottle of rum and a Yo Ho Ho.". Brilliant fun.
If you thought the melodies and beats of Captain Morgan's Revenge were catchy you haven't heard anything yet. The guitar riffs and drumming are better than ever, and let's not forget the awesome piratey sounding keytar melodies which put those of Captain Morgan's Revenge to utter shame. I'm super impressed with this album and have been unable to stop listening to it since it found its way in my mailbox. The limited bonus edition comes packaged with a DVD featuring a FULL setlist from Wacken Open Air 2008 with surprisingly good video and sound quality and is a must have for fans of Alestorm.
Thank you Alestorm for making the music you do.
Although the press labels them as Folk metal this probably comes closer to Pirate-inspired Power Metal as "Black Sails..." is nothing but full of speeding tempo and double bass drums. Still the album overall incorporates a respectable amount of folk elements such as lead violins and trumpets authentically recorded by guest musicians.
All songs are pirate tale centered with Bowes impersonating in a convincing manner the pirate singer-narrator. At the same time his keys undertake the accordion sound for the biggest part of the album delivering all the predictable but unavoidable pirate melodies one expects to hear from this sort of release. Still for a metal release some would demand more individuality on the guitar tracks. The guitars are actually heavy and consistent throughout yet for the biggest part they just accompany the keyboard parts and solos instead of being the primary source of melody for the group (still there are quite a few good if short guitar solos on this).
There are unquestionably heavier straight riff based songs on "Black Sails..." namely the title track yet the overall impression is that this is a relatively easy listener that could be even enjoyed by people outside the Power metal fan base who simply enjoy pirate stories.
On the other hand, power metal fans might find this relatively light for their taste or nowhere near the shredding medium expected from Power metal groups.
In any case "Alestorm" demonstrate a fair amount of originality and the overall atmosphere in the UK, so far, is rather encouraging towards their brand of metal.
Furthermore this particular edition of the album (Brown cover with emblem) is very good value for money as the second disc is a live DVD including the full 8 track set of the band's 2008 appearance at W.O.A. (professionally shot & recorded)
Power Play UK magazine (issue 110) marks this album with 8/10 commenting: "'Black Sails' is a very good album... buy this, go see them."
I bought Alestorm's first album, Captain Morgan's Revenge, on recommendation from someone who saw them life, knowing that I would enjoy pirate-themed lyrics. Alestorm did not let me down, their catchy lyrics, awesome riffs, and epic soloing skills amazed me throughout the album.
Black Sails at Midnight improve upon Captain Morgan's Revenge in a lot of ways. The soloing is still their, though perhaps better, the keytar is better than ever. Perhaps the only thing I have to say about this band is Christoper Bowes, while no doubt a talented keyboardist, has perhaps the worst voice I have ever heard. No doubt, his gruff style adds to the "piratey" flavor of Alestorm, but at the same time I would prefer a more talented vocalist.
So, if you like Ale, Pirates, catchy solos and sheer stupidity in lyrical content, this album is without a doubt for you.
Alestorm isn't exactly the most original band on the planet. We've seen pirate-obsessed metal for years from Running Wild, and mixing power and folk metal has been done to great effect by bands like Mago de Oz and Elvenking. Still, there's something about the combination that's hard to resist. Whether it's the galloping leads, folk-driven melodies, swirling symphonic elements, the gruff vocals (which bring to mind Dropkick Murphys, oddly enough) or just the sheer fun of songs about sailing the seven seas with a cutlass in one hand and a beer in the other, it's hard not to smile and shout along to songs like "Leviathan," "Pirate Song" and of course "Wolves of the Sea."
Black Sails at Midnight is another totally fun album from Alestorm, and one that should appeal to any metal fan who doesn't take things too seriously. Fans of Elvenking, Mago de Oz, Running Wild, Fintroll and Korpiklaani in particular should definitely check this one out.
Edition Notes: The limited edition version of Black Sails at Midnight comes in a thick, slipcased digipack with a bonus DVD featuring the band's performance at the Wacken festival in 2008.