Curse of the Crystal Coconut

We all know who Alestorm are by now and what style of ‘love it or hate it’ pirate based thrash heavy metal they play, but I had an unnerving bad feeling about Alestorm’s sixth album before I even heard some of the songs.

2017s No Grave But the Sea was another solid effort of pirate anthems, but after front man Christopher Bowes relocated to Tennessee, dropped some very good Gloryhammer albums, and dropped a goofy side project (Christopher Bowes and His Plate of Beans), I was getting an uneasy sense that Bowes and his band were getting to ‘rock star’ status, and that Alestorm would go too mainstream, self aware  or meta, essentially becoming a parody of themselves.

And that feeling wasn’t helped when the first two singles, “Tortuga” and “Treasure Chest Party Quest” came out. Both forgetful, fairly unpirate-y and Captain Yarrface’s (Rumahoy)  rap break on the already awful “Tortuga” being one of Alestorm’s cringiest moments in their discography. But then “Fannybaws” dropped and all was right with the world again, with its a signature, super catchy pirate romp and chorus that Alestorm has been known for. Also, Peter Dinklage….

Luckily, the rest of the album follows suit with much better songs that Alestorm has perfected over the years. That said, it’s also the same style that seems to be repeating itself over the course of 6 albums. Still, when they drop a killer keyboard drenched jig or shanty,  key change or chorus, it’s undeniably fun as heard on the likes of “Chomp Chomp”, (featuring Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns of Finntroll), “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship” (with a lovely little female vocal break from Patty Gurdy) or rousing gallop of “Call of the Waves”. Then the latter third of the album actually delivers some really fun stuff, with two short, funny bursts in rollicking shanty “Pirate’s Scorn” (yes, from Donkey Kong Country) and “Shit Boat (No Fans)” (“Your pirate ship, can eat a bag of dicks!“) and goofy stomp of “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew”.

Then, as they have done before (“Sunset on the Golden Age”, “Treasure Island”, “Death Throes of the Terrorsquid”)  Alestorm drop an eight minute epic “Wooden Leg Pt. 2 (The Woodening)” the sequel to “Wooden Leg” from 2014s Sunset on the Golden AgeAnd with some dramatic spoken words and epic 8 bit jig,  its a pretty solid end note before the cover of Joan Beaz’s 60’s pirate/folk song “Henry Martin” ends the album.

My trepidation was somewhat alleviated after hearing Curse of the Crystal Coconut in its entirety, and the album certainly is another quality Alestorm album. I’m just not sure where it stands in the totality of the band discography. At times, I fear the pirate shtick has run its course but then I hear “Fannybaws”,  “Pirate’s Scorn” or “Shit Boat (No Fans) and I’m grinning from ear to ear.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 25th, 2020


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