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Heavy Metal Hamsters - 10%

Acrobat, February 8th, 2009

Hmmm, I’m going to blame Dragonforce for this one. A British based band plays what could be called power metal – though I’ll save myself the three-page rant for another day – gains notoriety and maybe even a slightly higher standard of groupie than, say, Stratovarius. A bunch of understandably bored blokes from Perth attempt something similar: form gimmick-based and wholly fruity band.

Right, whose idea was that keyboard sound? I going to presume that this band has ears as the vocals are occasionally in key and the guitar and bass seem to have been tuned. So why would you utilise this keyboard sound? A seafaring atmosphere is the one you were aiming for, right? I’m not thinking of the high seas or grand old Man ‘O Wars, I’m thinking of that xenophobic skunk-based cartoon, Pepé Le Pew. I know the Scottish and French have had strong past – but I’m not giving Alestorm the credit of actually making some historic link in their music. I know they are a light-hearted band but did you really want to be laughed at? In fact the actual keyboard solo at the end has that oriental tone that I so scorned Children of Bodom for, this obsession with the east has gone way too far. Do these boys honestly belief that nubile Japanese women in schoolgirl outfits dream of sweaty, pasty men? I hate to bring an unfortunate end to your daydreams but this simply isn’t the case, nubile Japanese women don’t; their thoughts probably dwell on pillow fights and other female-based activities. The fact that this is a duelling sort of solo between the keyboard and the guitar I’m led to believe that this guitarist is a cruel and wicked man as inevitably he sounds awesome next to the keyboardist’s attempts. Nah, come to think of it this is probably just forwarding the gimmick, the band themselves probably call them “VOLLEYING CANON FIRE TRADE-OFFS”.

It’s pretty clear that Alestorm have been taking cues from German bands like Grave Digger and Running Wild, and although these bands may have some silly lyrical themes they still remembered to sound like an actual heavy metal bands. I have no problem with referring to bands as true metal; I can manage this without smirking because regardless of my own opinion on Manowar’s dress-sense they sound like a true metal band. This phrase does become somewhat irksome when you start throwing it around haphazardly. True metal – to me at least, I’m guessing true metal could mean different things if you call Disturbed a metal band – would entail playing heavy metal music (shock horror!) with conviction and passion. It doesn’t really mean reiterating Grave Digger’s blandest moments and pinching one of Rolf ’N’ Roll’s more suspect ideas (his nickname certainly ranks quite high, mind you). In fact I find this thing so Grave Digger a-like that one of the few ways I could actually derive enjoyment from this is imagining Chris Boltendahl bellowing over it… and then going “actually, sod it, this isn’t good enough”. But I know, defamatory criticisms: “who are you to judge! Why don’t you write something better!” the sad fact is that this is very much true – honestly, I’d love to be playing in a gimmick based heavy metal band and I haven’t really written many new riffs lately (neither has this bunch but that’s a subject for another review, oh wait). Ah, the pirate based gimmick band’s life… that’s the life for me. The open road (sea), the wind in my hair, befriending fat women after gigs, and how they never tire of those relentless “Arrr” and “come here, you wench!” jokes. They do tire, they do. Hmmm, would even the loosest – I’m thinking less hotdog-down-corridor here but more akin to a tapeworm being thrown into deep space – woman of the Essex variety brag about banging an Alestorm member? Maybe it would be another something for her diary labelled “Agonies and Shames: A People’s Tragedy”.

Ultimately I don’t mind gimmicks or silly lyrics all that much. You know, when Blind Guardian are singing about dragons and such I’m not at all fooled into thinking that it’s a big, deep metaphor or whatever, they’re singing about dragons… it’s a bit silly. But you really get the sense that with the amount of passion and excitement going on here as if the lyricist was drunkenly (on rum no less, oh these pirate gimmicks don’t get old!) persuaded into writing lyrics about, you guessed it, ‘Heavy Metal Pirates’ when he really didn’t want to. This song is full of lies; I’m being lied to. I don’t like it. I quoth thusly: ‘we are heavy metal pirates’, you’re no such thing, young man! I suppose ‘we are a unashamedly gimmick based band of no fixed abode we’re on the road (sea!) and are interested in women of the larger variety!’ doesn’t actually have much of a ring to it – although a ‘sea/variety’ based rhyme could work – but at least it’s not a fucking lie. Christ, formulaic or what? I know you like Manowar, I do too, but let’s remember that Joey Demaio was better on Into Glory Ride than Warriors of the World, so maybe you figure out which lyrical style to ape? Hell, I don’t think I could even expect ‘Brothers of Metal’ styled scholarly and learnéd lyricism from this lot. Demaio, you fucking poet, you! But hey, it’s heavy metal is just a bit of a lark anyway, now let’s go and get all our nu-rave clothing ready we’ve got a super fun ironic party to attend. Oh look everyone, Jemima is referencing popular culture, and my life is just like Skins!

You know, this upset me. It made me a liar, the other day I said, “You know, Scotland has produced some really good bands”, but I can’t listen to them anymore, Alestorm has ruined them for me. You’re mean and I want my mum.

No quarter for the poseurs - 85%

headbanger54, November 20th, 2008

I do have to admit that this is the first time I ever listened to Alestorm and I am fucking impressed! This is pretty great folk/viking metal right here. Alestorm seems to take a different approach than most other bands of the genre, whereas most take their metal influence; riffs, solos, vocals, etc from a more power metal/speed metal/ heavy metal point of view. However, it sounds like Alestorm takes their approach quite differently.

Turn on this single and you will hear exactly what I'm talking about. That opening riff? That's so fucking thrash that it hurts. It almost sounds like something that modern day Exodus would write. Plain and simple it's a great riff and you'll find yourself headbanging immediately. The rest of the riffs throughout the song build off of that main riff at around the same speed(mid paced thrash, not too fast but still kicking ass). The vocals here are also something that you wouldn't get from a band like Tyr or Elvenking. They aren't the controlled, talented falsetto singing that most folk metal bands use. They are much more aggressive, growly, and uncontrolled like so many thrash bands.

And of course you have the very folky leads in between verses and choruses which sound of course like pirate music! All in all this is a brilliantly done song with great riffs, both thrash and folk, and pretty epic solo. The bass seems a bit loss but oh well. Now if you'll excuse me I have some drinking and sailing to do!

"We are Heavy Metal Pirates
We sail across the sky
In our battleships of cosmic steel
We're the terror up on high"