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Alestorm - "Back Through Time" (CD)

Alestorm - "Back Through Time" CD cover image

"Back Through Time" track listing:

1. Back Through Time (5:03)
2. Shipwecked (3:30)
3. The Sunk'n Norwegian (4:07)
4. Midget Saw (3:18)
5. Buckfast Powersmash (2:33)
6. Scraping the Barrel (4:40)
7. Rum (3:29)
8. Swashbuckled (3:53)
9. Rumpelkombo (0:06)
10. Barrett's Privateers (Stan Rogers Cover)
11. Death Throes of the Terrorsquid (7:46)
Limited Edition Bonus Tracks:
12. I Am a Cider Drinker (The Wuzels Cover) (2:58)
13. You Are a Pirate (LazyTown Cover) (1:33)

Reviewed by on August 19, 2011

"Believe me, if the music doesn't convince you that Alestorm’s members actually are pirates, then vocalist Christopher Bowes will definitely fool you into believing that actor Geoffrey Rush is also a singer."

When I was just a wee young metalhead (so long ago) the one thing that drew me to metal was just how fun it can be. There was always a special place in my heart for bands that were either too awful (remember N-M-E?) or those that were considered "cheesy" while not taking themselves too seriously. This brings me to Alestorm, who I consider among my very favorite bands. Not only can the act consistently produce incredibly catchy tunes, but Alestorm’s lyrics are downright hilarious."True Scottish pirate metal" may not draw comparisons to many (or any) other Scottish pirate metal groups, but it is indeed the best description of the band. For the last three years, Alestorm has produced some of the most memorable and fun albums, especially the latest "Back Through Time."

Alestorm not only portrays piracy in lyrics and image, but the blend of traditional and speed metal with folk elements may trick you into feeling like you're actually on a ship. Believe me, if the music doesn't convince you that Alestorm’s members actually are pirates, then vocalist Christopher Bowes will definitely fool you into believing that actor Geoffrey Rush is also a singer.

By far, the highlight for me is "Scraping the Barrel," which is a slap at the critics who think that Alestorm has or soon will run out of ideas. With tongue firmly in cheek, the song boasts "[y]ou may think you've heard all this before, that Running Wild did it back in '84, but times are a-changing and we don't give a damn." The funniest part about that quote is that Running Wild didn't have a song about pirates until "Under Jolly Roger" in 1987, but hey, the track needed a rhyme. For many years Running Wild was my absolute favorite band, but unfortunately Rolf actually did run out of ideas and, sadly, called it quits. The comparison between Running Wild and Alestorm ends with the theme, but even Running Wild never did it all the time. Alestorm can go on like this for years. As long as the songs are this funny, Alestorm would never grow tired with me.

The fun doesn't end there. Not for a second. The title track describes what would happen if pirates were to face off against Vikings ("You put your faith in Odin and Thor, we put ours in cannons and whores"). With lyrics like that, how can a band run out of ideas? There is a seemingly, and hopefully, endless stream of material.

Add those to other pirate anthems like The Sunk'n Norwegian" (about a bar), "Shipwrecked," "Rum," "Swashbuckled" and stellar covers of Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers' "Barrett's Privateers," The Wurzels' 1976 hit "I Am a Cider Drinker" and get this, "I Am a Pirate" from the Icelandic children's TV show LazyTown. The latter two are available on the limited edition of the album.

Each day after listening to metal with more serious issues, I always remember to reach for my breath of fresh air, Alestorm. The band reminds me that metal should be fun, as it always has, while the reality of life makes me forget.

Highs: Catchy, fun, and tongue-in-cheek. Did I mention the music is great too?

Lows: The "cheese" factor may actually exceed 10, but is this a low?

Bottom line: Laugh if you want, but Alestorm is not your father's Running Wild.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)