ALESTORM — Curse of the Crystal Coconut

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ALESTORM - Curse of the Crystal Coconut cover
4.18 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2020

Filed under Folk Metal
By ALESTORM

Tracklist

1. Treasure Chest Party Quest (4:16)
2. Fannybaws (4:14)
3. Chomp Chomp (3:32)
4. Tortuga (3:22)
5. Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship (5:04)
6. Call of the Waves (5:05)
7. Pirate's Scorn (2:47)
8. Shit Boat (No Fans) (1:14)
9. Pirate Metal Drinking Crew (3:45)
10. Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening) (8:06)
11. Henry Martin (2:29)

Total Time 43:54

Line-up/Musicians

Christopher Bowes / Vocals, Keytar
Máté Bodor / Guitars
Gareth Murdock / Bass
Elliot Vernon / Keyboards, Tin Whistle, Vocals
Peter Alcorn / Drums

Guest musicians:
Ally Storch / Violin
Captain Yarrface / Vocals (track 4)
Mathias Lillmåns / Vocals (track 3)
Joe Carter-Hawkins / Backing Vocals (track 4)
Ben Turk / Synthesizer, Vocal tuning (track 4)
Matthew Bell / Synthesizers (track 4)
Patty Gurdy / Vocals (track 5), Hurdy gurdy
Fernando Rey / Narration (track 10)
Kaelhakase / Narration (track 10)
Tatsuguchi / Narration (track 10)
Tobias Hain / Trumpet, Trombone
Jan Philipp Jacobs / Trumpet, Trombone

About this release

Napalm Records, 29 May 2020

Thanks to DippoMagoo for the addition and Vim Fuego for the updates

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ALESTORM CURSE OF THE CRYSTAL COCONUT reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
For a band initially written off as a short-term gimmick, Alestorm seem to be having a rather lengthy, and highly successful, career.

Part of the reason these pirate-loving Scots are still peddling their melodic metal silliness to a loyal audience is that the humourless killjoys misread metal fans completely. There are a number of other piss-take/gimmick bands which invoked the wrath of the self-appointed po-faced metal intelligentsia who have also made a success of it. Babymetal, Steel Panther, Slipknot, GWAR, Bad News, and the granddaddy of them all, Spinal Tap, all managed to gain devoted audiences. Why? Because despite the silliness, image, costumes, or non-metal elements they introduced, all proved they loved the music of their fans – metal.

If you familiar with Alestorm, you already know what’s going to be served up here on Alestorm’s sixth album. There’s going to be silly song titles, incredibly stupid rhymes (witness the third verse of “Chomp Chomp”: If you find a giant cayman/You're gonna have a really bad day man/There's nothing more to say than/I won't see you in a while/Not even Russell Crowe/With a giant crossbow/Ain't got a snowballs chance in hell/To save you from that crocodile), awful pirate accents, and infectious sing-along choruses.

There’s a bit of variety here though. “Tortuga” has a hip-hop/disco feel to it, but doesn’t stray far from the usual Alestorm formula. “Call of the Waves” has a power metal gallop to it. The hilarious “Fannybaws” is a drunken shout-along (Who's got a boaby two feet long? Fannybaws!)

There’s generally at least one historically accurate song per album. This time it’s “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship”… no, of course it’s not. It’s closing track “Henry Martin”. This is a traditional folk song, originally based on the life of 15th and 16th century privateer Andrew Barton. The acoustic intro gives way to a folk metal power ballad.

“Shit Boat (No Fans)” is a stand-out here. It’s the pirate equivalent of a playground taunt (Your pirate ship can eat a giant bag of dicks/Your poopdeck is a shithole and your rudder is crap). It’s short and stupid, and infectiously hummable. It’s not quite as offensive as “Fucked With An Anchor” but it’s nearly as embarrassing to hum to yourself in polite company.

And despite all this lyrical and thematic dopiness, Alestorm still have plenty to offer metal fans. While their lyrics aren’t very serious, their musicianship is seriously good. There might be flashier guitarists than Máté Bodor, but he’s got a great line in grooving piratical riffs. “Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)” allows drummer Peter Alcorn a little room to show off with a snare-shredding intro. The keyboards of Elliot Vernon and Christopher Bowes lead many of the melodies here, purposefully sounding like cheesy fake violins and hurdy-gurdies. That’s not to say there aren’t real instruments here. There are real violins and brass, and a genuine hurdy-gurdy, courtesy of Patty Gurdy, formerly of German pirate metal band Storm Seeker, and now a noted artist in her own right.

Over this musical monstrosity, Bowes rasps out lyrical lunacy in his distinctive Scots pirate accent. It’s not big or clever, but it’s tuneful and encourages singalongs. And that’s what makes Alestorm so attractive to metal fans. The band can fucking play when they want to, but being funny and having fun come first.

It’s not for everybody, but if you don’t like it, the band says it best in the line “…Kristof's gonna take a shit on your fucking lawn.”
DippoMagoo
During these dark and trying times, music can be a good distraction, especially anything on the more fun and upbeat side, which is certainly an accurate description for British pirate metal band Alestorm. I’ve been a fan of them since just before the release of their third album, Back Through Time, which is when they really stepped up their game, going from a solid, amusing band, into an excellent, often hilarious band, with some of the most over the top, yet irresistibly addictive and catchy metal tracks imaginable. They followed up that album with two more wonderful albums in Sunset on the Golden Age and No Grave But the Sea, and they are now set to release their sixth full length album, Curse of the Crystal Coconut (a title inspired by the videogame series, Donkey Kong Country), and suffice to say, the band has once again delivered some of the most epic,silly and wildly entertaining metal tracks I’ve ever heard!

Anyone who’s heard Alestorm before should know exactly what to expect from Curse of the Crystal Coconut: The band has a clearly established sound, and they’ve found their winning formula at this point, so anyone familiar with the band should already know whether or not they’ll enjoy this particular album. As usual, there’s a steady blend of hard hitting, fast paced power metal (with the occasional hints of thrash riffs thrown in) some very fun and playful folk metal, and some epic, cinematic sounding symphonic metal, with the various elements often coming together for glorious results.

I found No Grave But the Sea toned down their power metal elements a bit, compared to usual, but this album seems to have brought it back to around normal levels, so fans can expect a nice variety in the tracks, with quite a few fun, upbeat power metal anthems, as well as some slower paced, more folk-infused tracks, some mid paced tracks and some tracks where everything comes together, as well as one particularly strange and hilarious oddball track. As always, Christopher Bowes strikes a great balance between performing an excellent pirate impersonation, while still singing well, while musically everything sounds great, with the guitars hitting hard at times, while the folk elements are done very well, and the symphonic arrangements are very epic, and help add extra flavor. Performances are flawless across the board, with the vocals, keys and folk elements being the highlights, as usual, and production is absolutely perfect, as expected from the band.

As much as I love Alestorm, I was a bit nervous about the songwriting going into album, as one of the first two singles left me less than impressed. Thankfully, though, this proved to be an outlier, as aside from one other questionable track, the songwriting here is excellent, as usual, with a few tracks in particular standing out as some of the band’s absolute best work to date. Kicking things off is lead single “Treasure Chest Party Quest”, a mid paced, but fairly upbeat track, with some nice rhythm guitars, a great use of folk elements, fun verses, and an extremely catchy chorus, complete with funny lyrics, as usual. It’s not one of the band’s all time best tracks, but it’s quite a lot of fun, and gets things off to a strong start.

Next is “Fannybaws”, a very upbeat track, with a nice main folk melody, as well as some great guitar work throughout. It alternates nicely between heavy and melodic throughout, with very fun verses, an insanely catchy, epic chorus, awesome pirate themed lyrics, and an excellent instrumental section in the second half, with an impressive, yet very melodic guitar solo and more wonderful folk melodies. It’s pretty much a classic Alestorm song, in all the best ways possible, and stands as one of my personal favorites. I remember when I first heard the track, I thought it should be a single, and then about a week later it was released as one, so I was very happy! Another instant highlight “Chomp Chomp”, one of the band’s classic, thrashy power metal tracks. The song moves at a frantic pace, and features a nice blend of thrahsy guitars, more wonderful folk melodies, intense verses and a very fun chorus, as usual, to go along with more hilarious lyrics, and one of the best solo sections on the album, where the music gets quite intense. It also features some excellent harsh vocals, performed by Finntroll’s Vreth.

I mentioned being a bit concerned about the album, and the reason for this was second single “Tortuga”, which simply did not impress me much, even after several listens. My main issue has to do with the main beat, which I find rather irritating, and once the keys are layered on top, it quickly starts to grate on my nerves. The chorus is actually very melodic, and stands as the clear highlight of the track, but it simply doesn’t show up often enough to save a track I otherwise don’t really enjoy. The big elephant in the room here is the inclusion of a rap section just over a minute in, performed by Rumahoy vocalist Captain Yarrface. I initially hated that part (because I tend to hate rap in general), but over time it’s grown on me, somewhat, to the point where I now find it tolerable, and even slightly funny. It and the chorus still can’t save an otherwise weak track, though.

Picking things right back up is the brilliantly titled “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship”. I was expecting something completely wacky and out there, but for the most part, that’s not what the band did here. In fact, I’d say the band in general has a more fun side to them, where they can be super wild and silly, as well as a more complex, epic side to them, and if anything this track feels like a perfect blend of the two, with some of their most cinematic sounding symphonic arrangements ever, and an absolutely beautiful sounding, super melodic chorus, to go along with a wonderful middle section, featuring guest vocals from Patty Gurdy (who also plays hurdy gurdy throughout the album.) Musically, the track is quite nice, and has an epic feel to it, but on the other hand, the lyrics are every bit as silly as one would expect from looking at the name, complete with keyboardist Elliot Vernon screaming out some rather humorous lines throughout. It really feels like a perfect combination of everything I love about Alestorm, all in one track, and it’s definitely one of my favorite songs by them, to date!

The highlights keep coming with “Call of the Waves”, the fastest paced track on the album. It’s a very speedy, melodic power metal track, with more nice folk melodies, nice symphonic arrangements, and yet another very strong, catchy chorus. It’s less silly or intense compared to many of the other tracks, but it’s still an excellent, very fun track on its own. While there’s no title track, there is in fact a Donkey Kong Country themed track, as the band did a cover of “Pirate’s Scorn”, from the animated TV series, and they absolutely nailed it! Aside from the expected changes, such as making it much heavier and more metallic, the band also added in plenty of nice folk melodies, to freshen things up, as well as a really nice, entirely new instrumental section in the middle, while the track on the whole is quite faithful to the original, except with much stronger vocals and much better sounding music overall, while still maintaining the same level of silliness, complete with the absolutely incredible lyrics. In case that wasn’t silly enough, the band follows it up with “Shit Boat (No Fans)”, which is essentially their take on a fight song. I won’t go into full details on this one, as it’s only 74 seconds, and I wouldn’t wanna spoil the effect, but needless to say, it’s one of the most delightfully over the top and silly things I’ve ever heard! Following that is another fun track in “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew”, another fairly upbeat track, with great lyrics and a super fun, curse filled chorus. It feels like another classic Alestorm track, and is yet another winner.

The longest track on the album is “Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)”. Yep, the band seriously thought to make an 8 minute epic, as a follow up to one of their absolute silliest songs ever. As expected, this track feels like a longer, more stretched out take on the original, brilliantly reprising certain passages, while adding in epic symphonic arrangements, and updating some of the lyrics as the track goes on, while adding in some really epic choir vocals. I won’t spoil it, but things take an insanely goofy twist towards the end, and the final sequence is absolutely wild and ridiculous, in the best way possible! Overall, it’s a fantastic track, and would have made a great ending to the album. However, the band instead decided to close things off with “Henry Martin”, a cover of an old folk classic. The band performs it well enough, mostly performing it as an acoustic folk track, but I find the main melody a bit irritating, while the constant repetition of the lyrics drives me insane. Unfortunately, the track doesn’t work for me, but I won’t fault the band for it, because my biggest issues with it seem to come from the song itself, and not from anything the band did with it.

While I was initially a bit worried, Curse of the Crystal Coconuts has turned out to be yet another excellent Alestorm album. At this point, fans know what to expect, as this is yet another collection of insanely goofy, wildly entertaining pirate themed tracks, with a steady balance between power, folk and symphonic metal, as well as the occasional more epic sequences. Despite a couple weaker tracks, the album is amazing overall, with some of the band’s absolute best work to date, spread out fairly evenly throughout the album. Fans of the band are sure to love this, while anyone looking for fun pirate themed metal would be highly recommended to give this a listen, as it’s every bit as good as any other Alestorm album.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2020/05/17/alestorm-curse-of-the-crystal-coconut-review/

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