For a band solely and ridiculously themed on pirates, the first question beckoning is ‘how far can Alestorm really take this?’ Well, the message from this record is that the Scottish metallers will continue to either bring joy or probably annoy for as long as their inspirations can be flogged. Welcome to the world of pirate metal.
I have of course, missed the obvious question for those unaccustomed to these sonic buccaneers – ‘are they serious?’ – to which, of course there can be only one realistic answer. The fact that Alestorm are clearly taking matters in a jovial manner isn’t their downfall in Back Through Time. Other bands like Korpiklaani for instance, have successfully nailed their own alcoholic combinations to create some classic drinking songs. It goes without saying that whilst Alestorm have successfully branded themselves, they’re also pigeon-holed, and a third album of this material really strains to string together the humour of old.
There’s no doubt the four-piece are aware of this, but instead of a nod of acknowledgement, they utilise this irony on superior track Scraping The Barrel, keeping to the confines of their pirate theme, but asserting protest by sending a message to the critics that they’d better get used to some rum-swilling, mead-soaked debauchery for years to come. Lucky us.
There’s a micro-song even slung in Back Through Time, thrown in simply for the sake of it, almost in some attempt to consciously align some grindcore influences in the six-second Rumpelkombo. A Barrett’s Privateers cover follows up, giving that adolescent Dropkick Murphys feel to the Stan Rogers song.
If Alestorm are not to be stopped, then they should at least go for the full-blown concept album if they’re going to make things interesting. I’m just not sure that they have the estute songwriting and musicianship to create a humorous work of fiction and incorporate it into a running musical epic. It’ll simply hit a point when everyone is really beyond caring.
Then Alestorm will have their full freedom to sail their stagnated seas, scrape their barrel and throw the dregs at many an absorbent listener.