No Grave But The Sea - Alestorm
Album: No Grave But The Sea
Genre: Pirate/Folk Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
Alestorm’s music is, always has been, and likely forever will be, incredibly fun and cheesy. No Grave but the Sea marks their fifth full-length release, but deviates very little in the general style or substance of its predecessors. As always, it’s a raucous power metal romp through every pirate parody and stereotype in the book, featuring gang chants and fiddle solos galore, chock-full of energetic, headbang-worthy drinking songs about plundering the high seas and murdering bartenders, No Grave but the Sea, like all of Alestorm’s previous work, clearly achieves exactly what it set out to do - create some decent pirate metal. Individual tracks range from endearingly catchy to an entertaining cascade of beer induced mayhem. Tracks such as 'Alestorm' and 'Pegleg Potion' clearly distinguish themselves as the best tracks on the record, boasting catchy hooks and engaging, melodic leads. 'Alestorm' features some surprisingly effective harsh vocals, though this element is revisited only sparingly. On the other end of the spectrum, 'Man the Pumps' is a bit of a let down with hardly any guitars hooks and at times comes across as charmless, which they are not known for whatsoever. The remaining six tracks offer little in the way of memorability, though alcohol and the abuse thereof seem to be a running theme, which comes as no surprise if you're familiar with the Alestorm antics. No Grave But the Sea feels slightly more different to their past work since there's less power metal guitar in there and even less of the thrashy riffs they'd had previously. In that sense it feels to be quite a stripped back album, though a new element I feel they have on this one is the addition of some metalcore style screams, which can be heard in their self-titled song, something which I'm surprised it's taken this band this long to do, a self-titled song that is. Christopher Bowes’ campy, novelty vocals work well considering the subject matter, but offer little range or diversity. He delivers an identical performance in every verse and chorus, content to perform the exact same song for the umpteenth time. Though often oozing with charisma, Bowes’ monotonous vocals becomes grating fairly quickly, he’s clearly got a good sense of humor, but little else. Of course this is all neither here nor there where an Alestorm album is concerned, because that's clearly not the point of their music. The point is for it to be fun and yes, it is. My point however is that despite their apparent efforts towards complete and utter pirate buffoonery, they're not actually one trick ponies. Ever impervious to the winds of change, Alestorm have released another record with the same fundamental flaws and strengths as any of its predecessors. No Grave But The Sea is a good time, but its complete lack of substance and originality prevent it from being anything more. One-dimensional in vocals, songwriting, and instrumentation, its's undoubtedly Alestorm.
6 out of 10 stars.
Check out the video for 'Mexico' below