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Swashbuckle - "Back to the Noose" (CD)

Swashbuckle - "Back to the Noose" CD cover image

"Back to the Noose" track listing:

1. Hoist The Mainsail (1:06)
2. Scurvy Back (3:19)
3. Back To The Noose (2:32)
4. Cloudy With A Chance Of Piracy (1:19)
5. We Sunk Our Battleship (0:53)
6. Rounds Of Rum (2:34)
7. Carnivale Boat Ride (1:56)
8. Rime Of The Haggard Mariner (1:59)
9. Cruise Ship Terror (2:47)
10. No Prey No Pay (2:24)
11. La Leyenda (2:05)
12. Splash-n-Thrash (2:27)
13. The Grog Box (1:29)
14. The Tradewinds (2:00)
15. Attack (0:43)
16. Peg-leg Stomp (2:36)
17. Whirlpit (0:42)
18. All Seemed Fine Until (0:54)
20. Shipwrecked (2:18)
21. Sharkbait (1:02)

Reviewed by on July 1, 2009

"Swashbuckle has crafted an album that both thrash metal fans and pirate metal fans would be happy to add to their collections."

The popularity of pirate metal has been rising, and Swashbuckle has thrown their hat into the ring as another formidable force in the genre. While many pirate metal bands tend to go for heavy-handed songs about mead, wenches, and rowdiness, Swashbuckle keeps the pirate influences a bit more subtle. Their second full-length release, and first for Nuclear Blast, is a surprisingly enjoyable disc with good thrash metal taking precedence over heavy pirate references.

The album starts with four very strong tracks. “Hoist the Mainsail” is an intro that features Spanish-style acoustic guitar along with some power chords. “Scurvy Back” is a tongue-in-cheek take on the song “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake. Instead of railing on about how JT sucks, “Scurvy Back” is a good piece of straight thrash metal, and the fact that JT sucks is merely implied. The title track is more good thrash, and “Cloudy With a Chance of Piracy” belies its name, as it is a mellow instrumental track. Amazingly the punch line never comes on “Cloudy,” as the entire time a growl, scream, or cannon should come in, but never does. Al Di Meola would be proud of this little gem.

Swashbuckle does do the more standard pirate metal operation as well. “Rime of the Haggard Mariner” features a squeaky pirate babbling for a bit, some bagpipes, and then the sounds of pirates attacking a ship. This leads into “Cruise Ship Terror” which is, of course, about the previous pirate attack on the cruise ship.

The short song durations keep the album fresh, as the band never dwells on one song or theme too long. If a riff, lyric, or joke was good it will come back again. While the sheer number of songs (21 in total) gets overwhelming after a while, it is a minor quibble, as the large number of tracks adds to the album’s overall feeling of craziness.

Swashbuckle’s thrash takes more from hardcore and punk than it does from other types of metal. The riffs are distorted and fast, the solos are infrequent and full of 32nd notes, and the vocals are mostly atonal thrash yelling. But the songs are all tight and well written, and the album crisply rattles off one after the other. There is no waste or extraneous filler here. The breaks from the madness like “Cloudy With a Chance of Piracy” and “The Tradewinds,” are welcome musical pieces that give a jaunty sailor time to relax and enjoy the open ocean.

Swashbuckle has crafted an album that both thrash metal fans and pirate metal fans would be happy to add to their collections. The pirate themes and thrash play off each other well, with neither dominating. There are enough pirate-themed lyrics and jokes to keep the album light and fun. The whole thing is based on strong song writing and good thrash metal, which gives the pirate themes weight and makes “Back to the Noose” a fun time every time.

Highs: The thrash metal and pirate themes complement each other well.

Lows: If anything is wrong, it is that the number of tracks on the album is overwhelming.

Bottom line: Thrash metal & pirate metal combine to form a deadly combination.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)