“ Artist: Battleheart / Genre: Hard Rock & Metal / Release Date: 2006 „
There are some sloppy and silly parts on this album, it's far from polished. Christopher Bowes gets an "A" for effort for his vocals, but they're all over the place. The drum machine doesn't work very well during some parts either. The production on the album can be adequately described as 'bad'.
It IS very piratey however, and the album shines during the piratey bits, the pirateyness mainly being expressed through keyboard parts, which will you have you grogging and yarring in no time. There are some very fun guitar solos too, but not always worked in as well as they could be, though sometimes they strike brilliantly. The background noise with the rhythm guitar is mainly, well, just that. There are some annoying keyboard sounds which are a little grating (it's perhaps mainly one meant to sound like accordion doing it).
The ballad 'Nancy the Tavern Wench' is 'good if you like that sort of thing' which I do, but the better version is on 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' so seek out that if you're looking for a ballad. The cover of Korpiklaani's Journey Man is well played if not particularly innovative and it has that annoying keyboard sound in it.
Now re-branded as Alestorm, the Scottish power metal band that started out as Battleheart are sure to be a big thing with the kids for their entertaining and dedicated pirate theme, especially as those teens won't have any idea that Running Wild already did the same thing in the eighties, but fortunately these Scots have the ability and creativity to pull it off without ever seeming like a cheap gimmick. Well, at least on their later releases.
The self-titled 'Battleheart' is the less impressive of their two 2006 E.P.s, only for focusing on the band's more mellow and narrative side as opposed to the speedy thrashing of its successor. The band at this point consisted only of singer and keyboard player Christopher Bowes, whose pirate impression is pretty cool but still can't avoid seeming overly put-on when it vanishes in the faster finale 'Journeyman,' and guitarist Gavin Harper who mainly relies on a classic heavy metal style here. It's easy to forget that the rhythm is provided by a drum machine most of the time, apart from the distractingly artificial drum rolls of the first and last tracks, and as a debut E.P. this contains a generous and wide variety of material across its twenty minutes, from the opening overture that shows off Bowes' synthesised orchestral skill and the fast jig-metal instrumental 'No Quarter' to the band's core epic metal sound in the rest of the tracks.
Even for an early, low budget release, there's very little to fault this album, apart from minor issues in the production that see the keyboard orchestra tending to overpower the sound of the guitars, though sceptics who approach this self-described "true Scottish pirate metal" looking for signs of cliché and gimmick will find them in greater quantity than on later releases. A consistent theme of maps and trezer hunting is balanced out by the lighter side of pirate life in their classic sea shanty 'Nancy the Tavern Wench,' but my only real problem with this band is its continual use of keyboard solos that really shatter the ancient nautical atmosphere that's somehow contrived so well through equally anachronistic rock instruments. Harper's guitar solos are better, even though they're pretty routine, but this debut release seems more intent on expressing the band's ideology and versatility more than its metal credentials, something left over for its successor.
Although it shows signs of a first release - overly bombastic Hollywood orchestration, generic guitar riffs and some sillier pirate lyrics - this is still a strong debut from Battleheart/Alestorm, and the songs 'Over the Seas' and 'Nancy the Tavern Wench' would later find their way onto this year's debut full-length 'Captain Morgan's Revenge.' The other songs are a little less accomplished but still make nice extras and keep this worthy of hunting down by fans of the album, as although 'Heavy Metal Pirates' is more or less a weaker version of 'Over the Seas,' 'Journeyman' is a strong speed metal song with a fun synthesised fiddle, and 'No Quarter' is a nice jam.
1. The Glorious Battle
2. Heavy Metal Pirates
3. Over the Seas
4. No Quarter
5. Nancy the Tavern Wench
Track Listings: 1. The Glorious Battle / 2. Heavy Metal Pirates / 3. Over the Seas / 4. No Quarter / 5. Nancy the Tavern Wench / 6. Journey Man (Korpiklaani Cover)