Alestorm - Back Through Time

Napalm Records
Produced by Lasse Lammert

Three years on from their debut, Alestorm are surprisingly (and for some, annoyingly) still with us. The Scottish pirate-themed band have certainly divided people. The band play trashy metal to be sure, though it hasn't been without its charm. The band's debut in fact, whilst not exactly a work of genius, at least had a good grasp of what makes a catchy song and invoked the band's pirate themes very well. The band aren't about serious and thoughtful metal – it's dumb fun to get drunk to and sing along, and that's about it.

That being said, even if your intentions are to make low brow music, that shouldn't mean you should make cynically lazy and uninteresting music as well. That's more or less what we have with Back Through Time. Perhaps the band are tired of themselves – they've been saying they've been weary of the pirate thing since before second album Black Sails At Midnight. But either way, even for what is effectively a novelty band, Back Through Time is trying.

There are some good things to be said for the album, though. Lead single Shipwrecked is genuinely catchy and well composed. Sure it keeps to the band's trashy and primitive guitar sound, but its got a good tune and a good story being told. There's also some clever ideas such as fusing pirates and folk metal's favourite protagonists the Vikings in the album's title track, or an ode to the infamous caffeine-fused booze Buckfast in Buckfast Powersmash. There's even a move towards almost black metal in the final track Death Throes of The Terrorsquid, producing an epic atmosphere that is much better than what people expect from the band.

However in the middle of all this is a collection of lazy, repetitive and more importantly boring tracks. The band seem to have ran out of pirate-related songs and more often than not stray from this path. Sadly this doesn't result in anything beyond lots of songs about drinking (or midgets, cause that's so much better). There's so many songs on this album that amount to little more than 'Let's get drunk!', that the band start to sound like an annoying wasted teenager who has somehow managed to sneak into the pub. No better is this stated than on the track Rum, a song so terribly written – both its cringe-worthy lyrics and its uninspired riffs – that you wonder if it was just something the band wrote in a few minutes to act as filler.

Of course, the band seem fully aware of their shortcomings. Scraping The Barrel even brings up this fact, childishly calling out those that state the band would run out of things to sing about or who might question the band's originality. It's not the originality that should be questioned, or even the novelty value – it's the quality of the music itself. The album is certainly scraping the barrel as the band are too happy to admit, sounding like the band simply took the first riff ideas and song concepts they could think of, slapped them together, and rushed it out as an album before people got bored of the band.

For all their criticism, Alestorm originally were not without their appeal, however silly they were. However, Back Through Time sounds like a band who are cynically churning out yet another record to keep the bills paid, without any real inspiration. That might be okay for a quick giggle or two, but as something to spend hard-earned money on? Absolutely not. With so many great albums coming out, why would anyone want to waste their time on a tired album like this?

“ lazy, repetitive and more importantly boring ”

Tracklist: Back Through Time / Shipwrecked / The Sunk'n Norwegian / Midget Saw / Buckfast Powersmash / Scraping The Barrel / Rum / Swashbuckled / Rumpelkomeo / Barrett's Privateers / Death Throes of The Terrorsquid

Photo(s): Audrey Dujardin | www.shutterblast.net

Written by James Donovan
More: 2011, Albums, Folk Metal,

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