Alestorm - Curse Of The Crystal Coconut review

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Band: Alestorm
Album: Curse Of The Crystal Coconut
Release date: May 2020

01. Treasure Chest Party Quest
02. Fannybaws
03. Chomp Chomp
04. Tortuga
05. Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship
06. Call Of The Waves
07. Pirate's Scorn
08. Shit Boat (No Fans)
09. Pirate Metal Drinking Crew
10. Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)
11. Henry Martin

Alestorm is the only band you can trust in 2020, because they're giving you exactly what you don't want: nu metal trap beats.*

Yeah, so the rum, the keytar, and the Brobdingnagian inflatable ducks were apparently not outré enough for Alestorm, who are giving heavy metal the tracksuit-and-Lamborghini infusion that it so desperately needed. To the misfortune of the universe, single "Tortuga" is the only song on this album that truly sounds as though it staggered its way from the club to the beachfront (please, guys, write us some more bass-drop breakdowns), but with each passing album Alestorm's songwriting has reflected a better understanding of how to apply pop fundamentals to the roisterous folk/power rumpelkombination that drew a lot of metal fans in the first place. Millionaire astronaut goose-whisperer Christopher Bowes admits that he doesn't really listen to metal, a creative handicap that has fostered the evolution of this radical piratical nonsense from the brutal, eruptive chaos of Captain Morgan's Revenge to the unabashed party band we hear on Curse Of The Crystal Coconut.

Curse Of The Crystal Coconut flaunts the streamlined accessibility that drove the highlights of No Grave But The Sea and resurrects the variegated songwriting of Sunset On The Golden Age; it is Alestorm's funnest album yet, a work that utilizes all of the band's strengths while still pushing the sound forward and spinning the pirate gimmick into ever more creative perversions. The album bristles with more hooks than Davy Jones's Locker: danceable rhythms, folk-inspired melodic runs, inane snarl-along choruses, chunky thrash riffs, bombastic brass, and a healthy dose of salty silliness, all swirling together in an inescapable whirlpool of catchy, metal-based tomfoolery. I still hear some of the creative fatigue that surfaces on their albums now and then - in this case, it's "Pirate Metal Drinking Crew" that feels most skippable - but Curse Of The Crystal Coconut generally improves on the uneven songwriting that made No Grave But The Sea a modest disappointment for me.

This album is not as front-loaded, for starters, with my favorite tracks spread pretty evenly. The vulgar, piss-taking track is half the length, twice the pace, and a lot more fun; "Fucked With An Anchor" was a little mindless, even for a joke, but "Shit Boat (No Fans)" is the be-all, end-all of pirate metal diss tracks - and that chorus is the type of earworm that'll still creep up on you 40 years from now when you're sitting on your porch, cradling your newborn grandchild, reflecting on the life you've led: "Your pirate ship can eat a bag of dicks/Your pirate ship can eat a giant bag of dicks." Visionary. Meanwhile, the end-of-album epic tells a musical story as well as a lyrical one: "Treasure Island" sounded like the first two minutes of a typical tune inexplicably played for eight minutes, but "Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)" is a very woody sort of song, essentially "Wooden Leg" from Sunset On The Golden Age reconstituted as a full-blown multilingual blackened power metal chiptune odyssey. Elliot Vernon's delicious, award-winning** screams tell of undead mayhem on "Zombies Ate My Pirate Ship"; "Pirate Scorn" returns the band to its hyperactive sea shanty roots; and "Tortuga," of course, solidifies the band's evolution into Lil Jon Silver.

Personally, while I'm in awe of the chutzpah it took to write and release "Tortuga" (and also how catchy it is, because that's one of the top five singles of 2020 for sure), and I appreciate Alestorm's largely unprecedented efforts to bridge pop and metal in their own renegade fashion, I find that veering closer to traditional metal yields the most sonically impactful tracks in their discography; I have a soft spot for Black Sails At Midnight and I think it'll be a while before an album comes along to displace Sunset On The Golden Age as the "definitive" Alestorm record. But Alestorm is, at heart, a band of entertainers, from the lyrics to the live shows: a pop band for metal fans, a metal band for folk fans, a folk band for pop fans, a pirate band for law-abiding citizens, a Scottish band for normal people… is that all of them?

Speaking of being Scottish, Curse Of The Crystal Coconut closes with an actual, honest-to-goodness Child Ballad, which was even more left-field than the rest of the album. But you know that this is actually a rap album because of all the features: Captain Yarrface of Rumahoy drops a few bars on "Tortuga," Finntroll's Vreth does some chomping on "Chomp Chomp," and "Wooden Leg Part 2 (The Woodening)" features Japanese and Spanish narration from Japanese Folk Metal's Kaelhakase and Tatsuguchi and Afterpain's Fernando Rey, respectively. Violin and hurdy-gurdy are provided throughout the album by Subway To Sally's Ally Storch and Paddy Gurdy's Circle's Paddy Gurdy's hurdy-gurdy, respectively, while trumpet and trombone come from Alestorm session vets Tobias Hain and Jan Philipp Jacobs.

This thing is a big ol' party, whatever genre it is, which is probably just the pick-me-up we all need while we're sitting at home, forced to reminisce about the old days of walking planks and getting marooned on distant islands out in the real world.

* Their words, not mine.

** I'm not really sure which awards they have won, but they should win something.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Written on 21.05.2020 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 6   Visited by: 200 users
22.05.2020 - 01:41
I guess it's no secret these guys like Monkey Island, that ghost pirate looks just like LeChuck. Sans the comedic oversized hat.

Canadian black metal
22.05.2020 - 12:34
"Tortuga" was a huge letdown for me, don't like that song at all. But the other two singles are some good catchy party anthem's. I'm very curious about "Shit Boat (No Fans)". This review and a other I read bring up that this song is like a new "Fucked with a anchor" and it will be a new live favorite. Although it's a very short song. Can't wait for the album to drop next Friday!
The Land Is Silent... Before The Storm!
23.05.2020 - 20:02
The Witchfinder
Account deleted
>nu metal trap beats.

I think I would rather have that instead.
23.05.2020 - 21:35
Treasure Chest Party Quest>Tortuga>Fannybaws. All three are great fun, I am looking forward for the album and "Shit Boat (No Fans)"; those lyrics you revealed are pure class.
24.05.2020 - 00:42
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 23.05.2020 at 21:35

Treasure Chest Party Quest>Tortuga>Fannybaws. All three are great fun, I am looking forward for the album and "Shit Boat (No Fans)"; those lyrics you revealed are pure class.

Only pictures of nacked pirat wenches are missing here, well we all get that pm last night anyway
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
13.06.2020 - 03:53
In my humble opinion the songwriting on The Curse of the Crystal Coconut is not very consistent; it varies from total crap (Fuck you with an Anchor Part II....ûhh....Shit Boat No Fans) via not so shitty (Zombies Ate my Pirate Ship and Pirate Metal Drinking Crew) and pretty great (Chomp Chomp) until absolutely genius (Henry Martin and Wooden Leg Part II). 7/10
One day Metallica will strike back. We call this science-fiction.

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