ALESTORM — Curse of the Crystal Coconut (review)

ALESTORM — Curse of the Crystal Coconut album cover Album · 2020 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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.”
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Tupan wrote:
45 days ago
The silliness is strong here, more than ever, and I think it's great! Nice review, Patrick.
Vim Fuego wrote:
46 days ago
I really love silly though, so that's why I keep listening.
46 days ago
Every time they release I new album my first thought is: 'these loons are still going?' :P

I quite liked their first one. Every one since then has been a rehash with increasing silliness.

adg211288 wrote:
47 days ago
Good review, though I must admit Alestorm have lost my interest a bit over the years. I bought their very first album (back then they weren't even half as silly as they soon got) and I've followed them casually since (Back Through Time always felt like an album I should get if I ever bought a second Alestorm record, although Sunset on the Golden age has Drink on it, which may just be my favourite Alestorm song) but for me the one before this really did start to feel like they were losing the plot. I should probably still check this out though. I had forgotten about it until this review popped up.

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