Captain Morgan's Revenge

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As movie stars like Erroll Flynn and Johnny Depp have proven time and time again on the silver screen, pirates never go out of style; so what better motif to adopt for your brand new heavy metal band than that involving the at once romantic adventures and bloody chronicles committed to legend and history under Jolly Roger? Of course grizzled metallic veterans and lawless buccaneers alike will quickly inform you that Scotland's cunningly named Alestorm aren't even the first of their kind, but merely the apprentice cabin boys serving under the original pirate metal pioneers, Germany's Running Wild, who were sailing the briney blue way back in the distant 1980s. Yet, surely the seven seas and all their available booty can support more than one swashbuckling crew of scallywags, and Alestorm, to their credit, stow away both a bottle of rum (or twenty) and a barrel of laughs on their rowdy maiden voyage, 2008's Captain Morgan's Revenge. Actually, a sense of humor is probably more of a necessity than a privilege, given the quartet's relative inexperience, still coalescing musicianship, and somewhat uneven songwriting skills, which sees them flogging synthesizer-infused power metal of varying quality with the likes of "The Huntmaster," "Death Before the Mast," and "Terror on the High Seas,"; or else plundering familiar sea shanty melodies for drunken galley chants like "Of Treasure" and an album closing rendition of their national anthem, "Flower of Scotland." As well as handling keyboards and the bulk of the album's songwriting, vocalist Christopher Bowes (that's Cap'n Bowes to you!) intones a suitably lecherous, scurvy dog's growl that proves especially apropos when he's charming some poor lass's knickers off with seductive fare like "Nancy the Tavern Wench" and the irresistible singalong "Wenches & Mead." But his fellow "gentlemen of fortune" (led by fleet-fingered first mate Gavin Harper, on guitar) also give no quarter on particularly successful raids such as "Over the Seas," "Set Sail and Conquer," and the epic title track, all of which bode well for future voyages, and should stop any landlubbers who aren't entirely convinced from willingly walking the plank. Aye! Though their quest for treasure through heinous acts of heavy metal piracy be only just beginning, Alestorm's compass seems pointed closer to Fiddler's Green than Davy Jones's Locker.

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