ALESTORM have been seen as a joke for many a year by the po-faced intelligentsia who hold their noses at the term Pirate Metal - but on their new album 'No Grave But The Sea' the pirates deliver their answer - "Fuck You All" on the foul tongued track 'Fuck Your With An Anchor
This is the crew at their best irreverent best, songs about drinking, enjoying life on the high seas with nary a care for the landlubbers and scurvy dogs who have missed the fact that we are allowed to have fun.
'Of course, you're not going to get anything revolutionary here - Alestorm are not about to release a prog-themes album with 20-minute songs or take a turn to death metal.
However, while the lyrical themes are familiar, there is a slight evolution from 'Sunset Of A Golden Age'. Some tracks, such as the self-titled 'Alestorm' opening with a tough riff and Bowes pushing his already gruff voice even further.
What makes Alestorm 'great' is not the ribaldry and drunkenness - that's a given -rather the music behind each track. They have taken the 'symphonic folk metal' trope and given it is swift kick up the arse.
Sure, on 'Fucked With An Anchor' it's straightforward crowd pleasing stuff, but on every other song here on 'No Grave But The Sea' there is an understanding of what they need to do in terms of composition and arrangement: evident on the likes of 'Bar In Imbiss' and 'Man The Pumps'.
In many ways this album is also a step forward from some of the elements of 'Sunset': of course we have tracks that audiences will learn to love live, such as the first single 'Mexico', but with the likes of ;Man The Pumps' the narrative has a subtle link to a shanty tune that could have been from the 17th Century.
This Alestorm at their best, playing comedy with a straight face, the melodrama meshing into daft tunes, but never stupid.
But to return to the questions raised over the pirate metal tag -perhaps 'No Grave But The Sea answers those issues - throughout the sense is that they are self-aware of te tags and sneering; on 'Treasure Island' the romp and the words are even more of a fuck you than 'Fuck You With An Anchor' - it's returning any sneers with a curled lipped grin, a guitar solo and rampant keyboards.
Declare your allegiance with the good ship Alestorm, grab that bottle of rum and learn all the words from 'No Grave But The Sea' and pillage in the quest for wenches and beer.
Review by Jonathan Traynor