Alestorm – No Grave but the Sea (Napalm)Friday, 19th May 2017
What can be said about the fun-loving pirates of Alestorm that hasn’t been said already? At this point, they are five albums in and have done nothing but improve the formula with each new round. No Grave but the Sea continues this trend, and sees the band at their most addictive and catchy.
The old saying goes that if you have enjoyed any of Alestorm’s previous material, you’ll be right at home here. As with their last release, 2014’s Sunset on the Golden Age, No Grave but the Sea is more about making fine adjustments and tightening the reins on their formula. The one element that longtime fans will pick up on (as already heard in released tracks “Mexico” and “Alestorm”) is that of some heavier riff structures and some barked vocals from Elliot Vernon. Some may balk at those two pieces, but they only serve to give a little more aggression and contrast to the band, and feel like a natural evolution from the last album. Neither of which dampens the fun, and some of these tracks are some of the most magnificent the band has produced.
Fun tracks like the aforementioned “Mexico” and title track revel in the usual Alestorm tropes of folk/power metal with amusing hooks that draw you in with first listen and undoubtedly burrow into your skull. In this regard, “Fucked with an Anchor” may be the most juvenile track they’ve done, but you’ll be hard-pressed to keep a straight face and not sing along to the insanely catchy chorus. It’s precisely that sense of humor and melodic sensibility that makes Alestorm one of the strongest bands in this particular category. But the band is also deadly serious in their execution and musicianship, and the more ‘epic’ tracks like “To the End of the World” and “Treasure Island” (which slyly weaves the album full-circle at its finale) show how far the band has come in regards to integrating more bombastic keys and a sense of grandeur to their sound.
An Alestorm album should be fun, epic, and completely over-the-top. All of which are accomplished with aplomb on No Grave but the Sea. May they continue to ride the waves of success.