Friday, January 2, 2015

#3 of my Top 12 Albums of 2014: Sunset on the Golden Age

Alestorm's Sunset on the Golden Age

Release Date: August 1st, 2014
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Pirate Metal, Folk Metal

     Pirates are awesome, Alestorm is even better. Review over.

     Okay, no, I will not end this entry into my Top Albums of 2014 there, I cannot in good conscience do that due to the flawlessness of Sunset on the Golden Age, arguably Alestorm's best album to-date.  I will say, I was counting the days leading up to the release of Sunset on the Golden Age and I went out on release day and bought the deluxe edition of the album featuring six acoustic versions of previously released songs.  I was overly excited for this album, as I was for many releases this year, but unlike some of my other favorite bands, Alestorm delivered in full this year, producing some of the best melodies and humor of their career.  This album continues the tale of the pirates who traveled time to fight and steal the plunder of Vikings in Back Through Time, now continuing the fight into the future. There is everything from invading alien squid monsters (from Space) to a man losing all of his limbs from varying nationalities, to two of the longest songs Alestorm has ever released, one chronicling the tale of The Battle of Cartagena, a naval engagement in which the British navy suffered significant losses to the Spanish, who then secured their dominance in the America's for a significant stretch of time. Interesting, no? Well, let us take a running jump off the plank into the pirate-infested waves of the world of Alestorm!

     Yar-har, yo ho, swab the poop deck, walk the plank, shiver me timbers. There. I'm done. Now that I got the obvious and stereotypical pirate phrases and sayings out of the way, I do not need to bring them up in subsequent sentences/paragraphs.  However, you may hear them in the songs I post here because you know what? Alestorm are a funny band and primary songwriter and leader of the troupe Christopher Bowes is one hell of a wordsmith, being able to tie in all of these pirate themes without running out of material and keeping every song sound fresh and new.  Sure, he uses some of the standard phrases you may have heard in your Pirates of the Caribbean and Penzance films like the ones I said earlier, but it all blends in very well for a hilarious tongue-in-cheek trip that will have you thirsting for more.  Hell, the first song on the damn album is "Walk the Plank," a thrashier introduction that will have you chanting the title just as loud and emphasized as the band.  They have been around for just seven years, ten if you count their previous incarnation Battleheart, and in that time have released four solid pirate-themed records that have put them at the forefront of modern Pirate-themed Metal, especially with Running Wild's drop in quality in recent years.

"Magnetic North"

     As I said earlier, Alestorm are a comedic outfit, but that does not mean they can not release more serious tunes that are just plain good, no matter what inclination of music you may associate yourself.  "Magnetic North" quickly became one of my favorite songs on the album and tends to be the song I start people with when I introduce this album to my friends as it has everything you need in a good melodic metal song.  It has the infectious melody that will be in your head for hours, set forth by a violin, some trumpets and some sort of a flute-type wind instrument, and power metal tendencies for the chorus and the lead-up to the chorus, inviting the listener to join in rather than just hear the music.  Its also one of the heavier tracks on the album at certain points following the chorus which in turn makes it one of the livelier/stand-out songs you'll find in this collection, though as I said earlier, every song has its own individual identity.


     "Drink" is the one single released prior to this album and if its not one of the most well-chosen singles to promote an album, I don't know what is. Actually, scratch that, my Number 2 album released the best single to promote an album this year, but we'll get to that later.  Drink is a comedic escapade into the age-old pirate (and Scottish) tradition of jolly-old alcohol, in this case accepting all types of alcohol, rather than just Rum like Alestorm usually does.  The chorus is probably the best on the entire album, which is probably because its a straight-up Power Metal chorus, featuring full, unrestrained chanting of the entire band that if you don't start singing along, I don't believe you have a soul anymore. Here, I'll help. You're welcome.
You may be thinking I messed up and kept the caps-lock button on when typing the above chorus, but no. Just typing that made the letters themselves caps'd.  That's how explosively amazing "Drink" is.  Other great songs on the album include "Surf Squid Warfare", which I included in one of my earlier King's Koncert posts, "Mead From Hell," and "Wooden Leg," the last of which is probably the funniest one if you want a good laugh.

"Wooden Leg"

     Sunset on the Golden Age is a masterpiece album, one that belongs in everyone's library, and I do not mean by pirating the album (heh), buy this.  Alestorm remains one of the most inventive and consistently good Metal bands in recent memory and if you ever get the chance to see them in concert, I highly recommend it, myself having the pleasure of seeing these guys three times.  Christopher Bowes' keytar playing is near legendary at this point, and Murdock's bass playing is some of the best i've heard this year, though without the ambitious efforts of Alestorm's veteran producer Lasse, it would be hard to imagine this album coming together as well as it has.  Every piece is where it is supposed to be and everyone plays their parts spectacularly, check Sunset on the Golden Age out at my highest recommendation, there is nothing else like it as good.

Click here for Alestorm's official website.
Click here for Alestorm's official Facebook Page.
Click here to buy Sunset on the Golden Age on iTunes.
Click here to buy Sunset on the Golden Age on Amazon.

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