REVIEW: ALESTORM – “Curse Of The Crystal Coconut”
Most bands mature as they get older, often creating more serious and complex music than their early years. Alestorm is not one of those bands; if anything, ‘Curse of the Crystal Coconut‘ is the most whacky and immature album they have ever made. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and it’s nice to listen to something lighthearted when much of the world is experiencing the darkest days for decades.
The albums opener and first single “Treasure Chest Party Quest” is a statement of intent with tongue in cheek lyrics such as: “Well you know we sold out a long time ago / Now we’re in it for the money / The hookers and the blow!”. It’s unmistakably Alestorm and much like the previous album “No Grave But The Sea” the songs here care much more about being catchy and amusing rather than heavy or staying within the confines of metal.
“Fannybaw,” “Pirate Metal Drinking Crew,” “Pirates Scorn,” “Call of the Waves,” and “Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship” are all top tier Alestorm songs that will please fans, and slot perfectly into their live shows. They don’t do anything particularly new; if you’ve heard Alestorm before, this will sound very familiar. Fortunately, the skilled musicians of Alestorm and the signature songwriting of founder and vocalist Christopher Bowes mean that they’re still a joy to listen to. “Fannybaws,” in particular, is one of the most ear-wormy songs they’ve released in years.
Tortuga, the albums second single, is a welcome breath of fresh air with its poppy beat, prominent keyboards, and guest vocals from Captain Yarrface of Rumahoy. I’m glad the worlds big enough for two ridiculous pirate metal bands.
There are, however, a couple of tracks that fell completely flat. “Henry Martin” is a strange choice to close the album. It’s a cover of a Scottish folk song and not a particularly good rendition of it. It’s also tonally inconsistent with the fun vibe of the rest of the album, even if it is still pirate themed.
“Shit Boat (No Fans)” would be funny if I heard it for the first time live; instead, the expletive-laden chant is just something to skip after you’ve listened to it once. The entire running time of both of these songs are under four minutes, so it doesn’t come close to ruining an otherwise enjoyable album, but their inclusions are questionable.
On the other hand, “Wooden Leg Part 2” feels a bit like a modern family guy joke; at over eight minutes, it goes on so long it loses my interest before the finale. It did, however, give me the biggest laugh of the album with its mention of “Strong Zero.” For the uninitiated, this Japanese alcoholic drink may be the most lethal substance ever put in a can.
Detractors of Alestorm and other themed bands pose the question of how long a gimmick can realistically go on for before it gets stale or unfunny. We certainly haven’t reached that point yet. Curse of the crystal coconut is a fun album, and there’s a handful of tracks on here that are sure to be popular during their live shows. While it’s not quite as memorable as previous releases, it’s still worth a listen or three.