Alestorm – “Curse Of The Crystal Coconut” (Napalm Records)
By now well known for their jovial banter, tongue in cheek humor and singalong tunes, Alestorm’s winning formula has seen them rise over the years onto what must be their finest release in “Curse Of The Crystal Coconut”! Laff as you may me hearties, but joining these extraordinary pirates on their 6th raid is an impressive range of guests from Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns (Finntroll), Ally Storch of Subway to Sally (violin on the entire album) and Captain Yarrface of Rumahoy, among the better known names. But moreover, the 11 tracks here go well beyond the usual broadside of merry and utterly irresistible songs to include deeper ballads and more epic pieces, although the smell of Alestorm’s rum nonetheless pervades across the album I’m glad to say har har! More commonly used in Scottish slang to combine male and female genitalia as an insult, thanks to Christopher Bowes’ unique sense of humor, ‘Fannybaws’ is now the name of the greatest pirate that ever sailed the seas, defeating vikings and krakens alike on this hugely catchy singalong number with its pumping concertina melodies, wailing guitars slashing out their own delights, feisty fiddles and massive backing vocals to really get the knees up. Chugging in on the fast ‘Chomp Chomp’ with a mean Priest like riff, it’s the main pirate melody from Bowes’ bellowing keytar – along with his rhyming lyrics that ‘…Not even Russell Crowe, With a giant crossbow, Ain’t got a snowballs chance in hell, To save you from that crocodile..’ which do the damage here so catchily in stylish bombast and fine bravado. Despite its ludicrous title of ‘Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship’, this 8 minute epic opens to delicate Celtic pipes and despite getting heavier, the chorus is a heartfelt if raucous singalong as if you could ever imagine a pirate crew in a tender moment, made all the more emotional by Patty Gurdy’s (Patty Gurdy’s Circle) beautiful femme vocals and moving hurdy gurdy, and when added to superbly by Mate Bodor’s wailing guitar, truly impressive. Bringing his keytar to the fore in the power metal of ‘Call Of The Waves’, the galloping pace driven by Peter Alcorn’s pistoning drums are blissfully contrasted by the moving synth sounds that all build to crash into you on the huge, but tender singalong chorus awash with melodies from violins, concertinas and guitars combined – totally possession! Rocking in on the pirate punk of ‘Pirate Scorn’ made even ballsier by Gareth Murdock’s heavy bass, stirring bagpipes and rousing band singalongs, this simple – but irresistible – song is a testimony to Alestorm’s formidable capability in turning out a treat, not just in the studio but one that will no doubt go down a storm live, which is where they thrive. Ending with the stirring if somber ‘Henry Martin’, this grim tale is made even sadder by moving Scottish pipes, Bordor’s acoustic strummings and told through Bowes’ own poetic vocals of ‘..til Henry Martin gave to them the deathshot…and all of her merry men drowned…’ in bringing a sobering ending to this superb album. So raise the Jolly Roger once more lads, and give a hearty nod to Cap’n Christopher Bowes, for the man deserves a medal.