Black Sails at Midnight

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For some bands (especially those in the metal community), The Lord of the Rings and its surrounding mythology served as the perfect platform on which to build a power metal empire, but for Scotland's Alestorm it was Pirates of the Caribbean. Like its brother genre Viking metal, Alestorm's signature brand of Jolly Roger metal fuses traditional melodies (in this case, Irish and Scottish folk) to the backbone of heavy metal in all of its various incarnations. Released in 2009, Black Sails at Midnight differs little from the previous year's Captain Morgan's Revenge -- an octopus-faced Davey Jones still graces the cover in homage to Iron Maiden's iconic mascot Eddie, the riffs are stormy and fast, and the choruses are made for swaying your bottles of grog in the air before breaking them over the head of your closest neighbor -- but there is a definite air of musical and thematic confidence that was missing from the latter. At its best, Alestorm's tales of bravery and treachery on the high seas are on par with some of folk-metal's best and brightest (Turisas, Dragonforce, Korpiklaani, Finntroll), though one wishes that they could find a way to replace the cheesy accordion keyboards with the real thing. That said, it's hard to not become at least a little effusive over a record that comes adorned with a round, white sticker on the front that says "Scottish Pirate Metal!" (the exclamation point is key).

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