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Alestorm Keeps Things Fresh - 81%

Crazy_Voodoo_Magic, March 10th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Napalm Records

As other reviewers have stated, the metal listener has to understand a few things about Alestorm before delving into their work. Those who seem to get the most hung up on their swashbuckling, pirate themed nature must keep this mind: Within metal, there are bands that are thought provoking, and challenge the listener with their music and lyrics. There are bands that evolve their sound throughout the years in order to explore new themes, as Death and Bathory did. But this standard shouldn’t be held to every band. There’s something to be said of the Alestorms and Hammerfalls of the world, who know what works for them, what their fans like, and firmly settle into their genre. These bands won’t produce albums that will change your perspective on life. And they shouldn’t have to. Consistency is an all too underappreciated aspect. There’s something to be said about buying an album and knowing exactly what you’ll get.

That being said, Back Through Time is, without a doubt, Alestorm’s best work to date. I first learned of this band upon hearing Captain Morgan’s Revenge, and while that album was fun, the sea shanty nature at times felt a little forced. I felt that at times the album suffered from strictly sticking to the pirate theme. Pirate metal can be fun, but how many songs can you make about wenches and drinking rum before the whole concept comes crashing down on you? Back in Timer proves that, with a few minor adjustments, you can sing about rum for a long time before it ever gets old.

Back Through Time improves upon Black Sails at Midnight in the same way that Black Sails improved upon Captain Morgan’s Revenge. The songs are a little more melodic, the solos hit a little harder, and the sea shanty nature fits in a little better than just feeling like it was interjected into the songs strictly to keep the theme going. Everything feels a little cleaner, more connected, and as a result, more fun.

I won’t go into every track, but there are some serious gems here. The title track kicks things off and tells the story of who would win in a battle of Vikings and pirates (it’s not the Vikings). The pace is aggressive, and the chorus fierce. Scraping the Barrel is a personal favorite. It’s Alestorm basically giving a huge middle finger to their critics. Go start your own band if you don’t like them, when it comes time for the next release, they’ll scrape the bottom of the barrel for ideas again, that kind of thing. Lastly, I want to mention Death Throes of the Terror Squid. One of the slower and heavier tracks, it tells of the hunt for a giant squid within Arctic waters. If you can’t accept that the band is having fun with themselves by this point, Alestorm really isn’t for you.

Alestorm is never going to set the metal world on fire. But with this release, they’ve proven that they can keep chugging along and have the ability to make minor adjustments to keep ideas and their sound fresh. I can’t help but think this would be a perfect album to set as background noise for a Halloween party. If you’ve liked the previous releases, than this is a must buy. If you’re new to the band, this is arguably their most accessible album.