"Captain Morgan's Revenge" is the debut album by Scotland's premier pirate metal band, Alestorm. It was released in 2008 on Napalm Records and produced by Lasse Lammert. The line-up for the album was Christopher Bowes (vocals/keyboards), Gavin Harper (guitar), Dani Evans (bass) and Migo Wagner (drums).
Alestorm formed in 2004 as Battleheart and changed their name in 2007. Just a year later, this debut album hit the shelves. There's a subtle difference between pirate metal and Viking metal and that difference is in the vocals. Christopher Bowes' singing is done in that pirate drawl and it definitely works! Although Ian Wilson is credited as the drummer on this album, he never made it to Germany to record his parts and a session drummer was brought in to record the tracks. A band's first album is obviously the most important, but is "Captain Morgan's Revenge" any good? Let's find out!
The twin guitar assault that never lets up on "Over the Seas" is magical and if you listen intently you can imagine you're on a pirate ship riding the waves and heading towards where X marks the spot. This is just the start of the album and if the rest is this good, we're in for calm seas and plenty o' rum. It's a song about a pirate crew that buy a treasure map for some pieces of eight and head out on the seas to search for gold.
The title track is up next and it's a song about Captain Henry Morgan, scourge of the Spanish main. It's a song set at a frantic pace with a wonderful accordion playing over the top of the guitars and drums. The Captain is made to walk the plank by a mutinous crew and swears his revenge. The chorus is done in such a way that makes it hard not to sing along with it and the band's playing is as tight as I've heard on any album, especially on the bridge where everything comes together.
"The Huntmaster" begins with a barrage of accordion and guitars and drums, which sets the tone for the rest of the song. The guitars are especially thrashy and it's packed full of different riff ideas, leading up to an energetic solo in the bridge. It's a song about the huntmaster, who sails into battle on a belly full of ale on a quest to bring back beer to his people. The last verse has Bowes singing the poem, "Weidmannsheil" by Oskar von Riesenthal, which appears on a Jägermeister bottle, translated into English:
"This is the hunter's badge of glory
That he protect and tend his quarry
Hunt with honour, as is due
And through the beast to God be true"
This is one of my favourite songs on an album that's quickly becoming an epic release which could stand the test of time for some years to come.
"Nancy the Tavern Wench" calls a halt to the fast and furied pace that's been carried through the first few songs with a slow ditty that heavily relies on accordion playing and a solo riff. The narrator is telling a tale of a tavern that he frequents where you can enjoy a drink and meet people with stories to tell about the high seas, treasure and mead. In reality it's really about a pub in Edinburgh that is no longer open that the band would venture to.
"Death Before the Mast" begins with a clunking bass line before thrash sounding guitars join in. The song is about a pirate who is being hunted down by the Navy with the lyrics building up to his death, beginning with the chase and ending with the boarding of his vessel and the fight that ensues. It's a good song with clever lyrics that go a bit haywire in the chorus which is related to the main battle.
"Terror on the High Seas" is a thrash infused song which carries on the tales of a pirate's life on the open seas with the crew of the pirate ship coming under attack from an enemy ship. The chorus could have been a lot better and I'm sure Alestorm would be the first to admit that this song isn't one of their best.
"Set Sail and Conquer" is my favourite song off the album as the main riff jogs through the track accompanied by the double bass drums kicking in unison. It's a song that sees the pirates readying their docked ship before setting out on the high seas for plundering, slaughtering and pillaging. It's a song that is put together really well, and there's a good drum roll before an accordion solo and following guitar solo in the bridge.
"Of Treasure" is an acoustic number, set to a backdrop of songs you would expect to hear in a port tavern in the days of the high seas. I perceive the narrator as an old man sat in the corner of the inn, telling his tale of a treasure's curse and how only he escaped with his life, his crew having perished in mysterious circumstances. It's a wonderful song, but I have to question its placement on the album and think it should have split it in half because there's no other song quite like it on "Captain Morgan's Revenge".
"Wenches and Mead" has a fun riff shared by guitar and accordion as the narrator tells his tale of getting drunk and getting lucky with the ladies. The drumming is intensely frantic in parts which is a credit to all session drummers out there who don't get the recognition of being band members - have drum kit will play and all that. It's a great song that will have the chorus stuck in your head for a long time afterwards.
"Flower of Scotland" ends the album on a high and is a traditional Scottish song which is all about Robert the Bruce's victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. It's the unofficial Scottish national anthem, which is played at national rugby games. It's a great version and makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, even if you're not Scottish.
In summary, I enjoyed this album a lot and can't help but play it every now and then. I keep thinking I'll just play one song at random but end up listening to it in full. There's not many pirate metal bands out there - Alestorm may well be the only - but you can't go wrong with "Captain Morgan's Revenge". Give it a listen; I'm sure you'll agree.
1. Over the Seas
2. Captain Morgan's Revenge
3. The Huntmaster
4. Nancy the Tavern Wench
5. Death Before the Mast
6. Terror on the High Seas
7. Set Sail and Conquer
8. Of Treasure
9. Wenches and Mead
10. Flower of Scotland
My rating: 8/10
Once upon a time in Scotland there was a pirate metal band who called themselves 'Battleheart' and struggled for years to be heard by the masses outside of Scotland. Well they have since changed their name to 'Alestorm' and have a decent record deal. 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' is their first release and I have to say it's a lot of fun.
The sound of 'Alestorm' successfully conjures up the pirate image by combining traditional heavy/thrash metal riffs with synthesised folk melodies and a lead singer that sounds just like Captain Barbosa from 'Pirates of the Caribbean'. Personally I would class this as a folk metal band and compare them to the likes of Turisas and Finntroll but most people disagree with me.
Although the music isn't as technical as I'd like I do have to remember that this is not the intention of the band. The band aims and succeeds at creating catchy melodic metal songs that anyone could sing along to. It's a theme seen all other the album with choruses repeated and harmonised throughout the album. This might sound like I'm slating them for this but I really like it. When 'Nancy the Tavern Wench' comes on I really do get the urge to sway from side to side whilst holding a tankard of ale, singing along to the song. 'Come take a drink and drown your sorrows, all of our fears will be gone till tomorrow'.
Although the lyrics seem quite simple, I would imagine it's very difficult to write a whole album of catchy pirate themed song. It may also seem limiting to write on one theme but luckily the pirate theme is quite diverse, there's songs of old pirate legends, taverns, ships, battles, swords.
I do wish that more money was put into making this album though. The thing that lets it down slightly and makes it 4 instead of 5 stars is the production quality. It just doesn't sound polished enough for me. I mean it isn't terrible like you'd hear on a black metal release but it is noticeable. At times it can sound a bit like a demo as opposed to an actual album. This is just my opinion though and many others have said that this isn't an issue at all. Give it a listen on the bands myspace or spotify or something like that before buying if I've worried you. You'll still want to buy it.
Overall Alestorm has taken the metal scene by storm (cringe now at PureDark's bad punning) with their debut album. The album has received very positive reviews not just on dooyoo but everywhere and I suppose it hasn't been as successful as it could have been due to it being a metal release and a themed one at that. I'd say do not mistake the theme for a failed gimmick it's actually awesome. I'd even recommend the album to anyone who just likes pirates. Also check out their more recent and polished release 'Black Sails at Midnight' which exceeds their debut.
Thanks for reading :)
This is overall very entertaining but it is not, really, I think, for metal purists. The rhythm guitar is blunt and monotone, the notes almost gets churned into a kind of soup by all the other stuff going on above, keyboards and solos and vocals which are the reason for listening to this. It is unashamedly gimmicky, but for me it's still perfectly listenable. The production of this seems to have taken a little bit of the edge off of Alestorm (formerly Battleheart) but overall it's a strong sound. Mr. (Captain?) Bowes's vocals stand up well. The title track is a strong narrative song which plays through very well, but really it lacks a super-strong keyboard or solo section to provide something else going on. Too much time is used trying to sound like a film score there, and this is a song held together by its riff, which for Alestorm is strong, but then that's not saying a massive amount. A great chorus though, good for singing along.
Alestorm Captain Morgans Revenge
Alestorm are a pirate metal band from Perth, Scotland. Captin Morgans Revenge was released last year (2008) with Napalm records.
Christopher Bowes - Lead/Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Tin Whistle
Gavin Harper - Lead/Rhythm/Acoustic Guitars, Jew's Harp, Additional Drums, Tambourine; Backing Vocals
Dani Evans - Bass Guitars
Migo Wagner - Session Drums; Backing Vocals
The band are awesome pirate metal is one great genre, I dont listen to it often though. Personally I do prefer this bands latest album, Black Sails at Midnight (Keelhauled and Wolves of the sea best songs ever) but this album has its good qualities.
Over Seas 5/5
Now as it is pirate metal when ever I listen to this band I immediatley think of Pirates of the carribbean and wonder what scene the tracks would suit best. For an opening track this one is immense it has a great riff in it and the vocals are very piratey which is the way it is supposed to be. Percussion is great gets the foot tapping. A brilliant opening track, keeps the listener glued and wanting more which they will get.
Captain Morgans Revenge 5/5
This is a brilliant track, infact it is better than brilliant! I love the guitarring its really catching and the drums are excellent. Lyrics are immense and stick in your head 'So have no fear and dont look back the afterlife awaits' I love that line espesially I dont know why.
The track in itself is just indescribable to be honest, its probably one of the best songs I have heard from this band.
The Huntmaster 5/5
I love the way this track just dives straight into it with the drums and guitar, no hesitance. The vocals come in seconds later and completely takes the track up a notch. The track is very metal. The best line is 'Sail into battle glory and metal'
An awesome riff starting around 02:52 just tops the song odd nicely.
Nancy the Tavern Wench 5/5
A slow one. well as slow as this band could probably go. The tempo really gives it that kick though to push it to a great song.
Lyrics are great and easy to remember , the second best track on the album. It really stands out a bit more than the other tracks but I havent quite placed it yet
Death Before The Mast 4/5
This one just seems a little bit to heavy, but it has a great bass line and the rhythm couldnt be better, I think it is really just the vocals that let it down a little. It is still a great song its just the vocals are to heavy and have no tune to them at all.
Terror on the High Seas 5/5
Now this track has one immense riff if i must say so myself and the rhythm of the whole song is memorable..hard to forget.
The vocals i admit arent as good as what they could be but everything else is absoloutley awesome.
I love the track and I think mant of the Pirate Metal fans out there would too so you might want to youtube this one.
Set Sail and Conquer 5/5
The track has a brilliant start to keep the listener tuned. Very piratey. Vocals are alot better. The tempo really sets this track off, its like the rhythm and beat are fast but the vocals are medium yet it all seems to click together and become succesful. It is a great track and is worth researching.
Of Treasure 5/5
Awesome track, with acoustics and a nice sturdy beat to it. Vocals are excellent in this one, with the ace pirate accent there isnt more more to say except search it and see what you think.
Wenches And Meade 5/5
This is a brilliant track, true pirate metal. I think this is THE best track off the album hands down.Its fast tempo gets you hooked and the guiatrring just glues you to the song. and the chant 'Hey! Hey!' through out the song makes it so you just cant hel joining in.
Flower Of Scotland 5/5
I really like this track, not only is it piratey but its scottish aswell, the band really bring out their (dont kow what the word is) but they really bring out their 'scottish sides. Its a great way to end the album too, nice you could say.
All in all a pretty amazing album, but if yoou have heard Black Sails At Midnight you will probably think that one is well better, I know I do but I still think this album is pretty amazing.
Alestorms first studio album under their new name, released in 2008, brings a whole nw meaning to power metal, with their new genre 'Scottish Pirate Metal'. Captain Morgans Revenge is one of my favourite albums from 2008, as it brought something new to my musical tastes. Id heard Turisas who were Viking Metal and didnt think much of them, so i was reluctant to buy this album, but a few recommendations from my friends swayed me towards it. After hearing The Huntmaster on a friends ipod however, i really got into them. The cheesy like melody you hear in every song is entertaining, aswell as the heavys riffs, brutal vocals and epic guitar/accordian solos. For me, the whole album was made brilliant by 'Terror On The High Seas'. A small drum solo followed by a riff any songwriter would be proud of makes the whole song brilliant, not to mention it has an amazing guitar solo followe4d up by an equally good accordian solo. It even includes a metal version of the Scottish national anthem.
Alestorm have taken the metal world by storm and it's not really much of a surprise, as pirates are the in thing these days. I've always been a fan of the beer swilling, festered skulled chaps, so it's not much of a surprise that the band is to my liking either.
Not the first metal band to have a pirate twist to them but perhaps the first from Scotland and certainly the first to issue a whole album full of tankard raising gems. The fusion of metal and folk music comes off fluently to give the album an awesome feel to it that reminds me of Nightwish in their prime but obviously with a vocalist with a pair of balls and a pirate theme. The lyrics appeal somewhat more too, well you can't really go wrong with the following verses of seaside sing a longs:
1 - Over the Seas
For some pieces of eight the deal was done
He gave us the map, our quest had begun
We gathered our crew and set sail on the waves
And we knew we'd be rich by the end of the day
4. Nancy The Tavern Wench
If you're looking for crewmates, you'll sure find 'em
Cutthroats and lowlifes and worse i should dare
Ol' Nancy don't care who comes to her inn
It's a den of debauchery violence and sin
9 - Wenches and Mead
When I come back from a mighty quest
I have no need for sleep or rest
I head to a tavern for a drink
And get so drunk I cannot think
A wench by my side and a jug of mead
These are the things that I most need
So I sit back and sing this song
And drink and party all night long
Of course the other tracks are also instrumentally ideal and a good example of power metal, the one let down is Flower of Scotland, which really just sounds like a bunch of drunk football supporters. This is a superb album from a great Perth band.
Having built up a predictable cult following for their self-styled brand of "true Scottish pirate metal" at numerous local gigs and across two impressive E.P.s, Perth's Battleheart changed their name to the more tell-tale Alestorm and recorded their first full-length album on Napalm Records, due for an eagerly anticipated January 2008 release. The notion of mixing speedy, raucous power metal with a pirate concept is nothing new, harking right back to Germany's Running Wild in the late eighties, but it's a particularly intelligent commercial endeavour in a decade that has seen trashy Hollywood blockbuster 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and its ilk capturing the hearts of this generation's lowest common denominator audiences with their superficial take on piracy. Personally, I preferred the 'Monkey Island' games.
What makes Alestorm so impressive is that the band has never allowed the gimmick to overshadow the quality of its music, putting their full energy into Dragonforce-styled power metal, albeit yelling tales of seafaring conquest and trezer huntin' rather than falsetto epics about dragons, and even going the whole hog into authentically recreating the sea shanty for the less serious numbers. Having finally come together as a fully operational unit after a couple of years of vocalist/keyboardist Christopher Bowes and guitarist Gavin Harper playing against a programmed rhythm and bass section, the band compensates for its lack of virtuoso talent with its passionate, nationalistic dedication to spreading the true Scottish pirate metal Word that will inevitably inspire a number of lousy imitations in its devastating wake. With cutthroats Dani Evans and Ian Wilson coming aboard to handle bass and drum responsibilities respectively, the Alestorm vessel is in a fine position to conquer the metal world once this debut is released next month - most likely in a Dragonforce manner that will see them overly hyped and derided in equal measure before making way for the next fad. Young metal fans are so fickle.
As anticipated, the band selects the finest bounty from their earlier E.P. releases (alright, I'll desist with the pirate lingo) and makes these the foundation of this longer work, while surprisingly forsaking the customary instrumental openings in favour of a more consistent metallic approach, something that demonstrates their impressive forward-thinking compared to fading genre superstars such as Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar, whose most recent offerings were atrociously pompous affairs riddled with narrative padding. The pirating concept figures prominently into all of these songs as can be discerned from the titles, but despite going for the obvious themes (maps, battles, wenches, trezer), it never feels like a diluted pantomime version of piracy, and it's clear the band has done its research to add authenticity.
Bowes' vocals take on a distinct piratey persona, growling in a gritty folk style on the slower and mid-range songs but being forced into a more traditional metal style in the faster offerings later in the album, reminiscent of Megadeth's Dave Mustaine, and the lyrics will stay with the listener afterwards just as much as the catchiest guitar moments. Each major song is afforded an extensive instrumental section for solos and such, which is actually something of a mixed bag (of pieces o' eight?): Harper's guitars are pleasant enough in their classic metal approach, but Bowes sticks to his cannons with consistent keyboard solos in the glitzy style of Dragonforce that serve to spoil the historical, nautical mood that the band has somehow achieved through anachronistic rock instruments.
There is a distinctive Alestorm "sound" to be found across this album, despite its commendable diversity, and while rooted in modern power metal it borrows extensively from folk metal in the style of label-mates Týr and the Swedish Viking bands such as Månegarm. While it doesn't take on this style as much as I would perhaps like, this at least allows it to develop independently as a distinct entity, and may one day lead to a gloriously debauched battle between the heavy metal pirates and Vikings, one that the fantasy-themed bands can observe from the safe distance of an overhead dragon and write an epic poem about at a later date. Despite its distracting prominence in the solo sections, Bowes' keyboard is the vital background ingredient of this atmosphere, sweeping in a synthesised symphony over the more eloquent passages but mostly taking on the sound of a nautical accordion that works perfectly against the rock instruments even more successfully than I could have hoped, benefitting from the band's newfound high production values.
1. Over the Seas
2. Captain Morgan's Revenge
3. The Huntmaster
4. Nancy the Tavern Wench
5. Death Before the Mast
6. Terror of the High Seas
7. Set Sail and Conquer
8. Of Treasure
9. Wenches & Mead
10. Flower of Scotland
'Over the Seas' really is the perfect introduction to both the sound and concept, and along with 'The Huntmaster' represents the oldest material here, originating on the first 'Battleheart' E.P., but now with added live bass and drums. With middling speed and a chugging style still rooted in their forebears Running Wild, these two songs betray their early conception compared to the rest, but this makes them more suitable to establish the scene that will later be exploded to new heights. Doubtless some listeners will come to this album purely for the cheap thrill of hearing some pirate songs, and with refrains like "with the power of ale, he could not fail," these songs can satiate and inaugurate the casual listeners before unleashing some true metal fury.
In-between these older offerings is the first brand new song in the form of the title track (the title itself is perhaps an obscure reference to the band's earlier instrumental 'The Curse of Captain Morgan'; the sort of trivial footnote that may find its way into a future Wikipedia entry) and the band's sound shows a noticeable development. The speed ranges from full-pelt thrashing to a steadier jig style once again, and the instrumental prominence in this epic piece makes it comparable to Iron Maiden's own seafaring epic 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' only shorter, and shows great use being made of the studio facilities. It's one of the most typically power metal songs on the album and thus one that should be eagerly plundered by Dragonforce fans, something that is sped along by the chorus melody sounding more or less directly lifted from that band's 'Black Winter Night.'
'Nancy the Tavern Wench' is the first of three songs to follow a significantly slower, folk-based style with the metal as a mere support, and one of two songs along with 'Of Treasure' to revive the traditional sea shanty in a thoughtful manner, sounding similar to folk metal deviations such as Týr's memorable take on 'The Wild Rover.' Once again, the band stays true to its creative vision without lapsing into self-parody (they're obviously having a whale of a time playing this stuff, but it isn't just a joke to them), and the lead accordion effect of 'Nancy' is fitting as its take on a female character's "theme." The later 'Of Treasure' (oh, so that's how you spell it) goes even further, based on acoustic guitar and flute and even introducing one of those springy things that are such a staple of Viking metal in the works of Bathory, Månegarm and Moonsorrow. I don't know what it's called, but I have a deep-seated fondness for its daft simplicity (please enlighten me if you know). The only other song to fall into this general style is actually very different, but shares camaraderie for relegating the rock instruments to the background; the closing track is the band's patriotic dedication to their Scottish homeland, the keyboards scoring extra points for producing a regal flair and not resorting to clichéd bagpipes, as the band chants the Corries' 'Flower of Scotland' with pride, before presumably launching into a rugby game on deck after the album closes. This finale is the least impressive song, but works as a fine coda, while the other two work brilliantly to break up the album without the need for (God forbid) ballads. After all, what would be the interest in a sensitive pirate?
The remaining bulk of the album showcases the band at its fiercest and finest, mostly coming from the excellent second E.P. 'Terror on the High Seas' and likely presenting the band's direction for the future, away from the slower narratives that characterised the album's first half. Now that the band has frequented the taverns and indulged in their trezer hunting deals, it's time for some serious conquest and pillaging as the seabound equivalent of Manowar's metal warriors, often spouting comparably ridiculous lyrics. 'Death Before the Mast,' the only other "new" song, is the band's most thrash-based offering, featuring significantly faster verses that Bowes tackles in a manner similar to Megadeth, but the style is perfected in the band's crowning glory, 'Terror of the High Seas' (undergoing a slight alteration from its earlier form, not least in its title). This is currently the band's classic, with their finest guitar riffs and their most dynamic performance recorded to date, perfectly suited to its violent lyrics.
'Set Sail and Conquer' is a little less brilliant, slowing down as the lyrics take on a less riveting self-confidence in the pirates' inevitable victory and thus lack the adventurous spirit of the previous song, metaphorically docking at Port Manowar as Bowes regurgitates that band's clichés of divine providence, the fight until death and the laughter over dying foes. Although it's still a highly enjoyable song, spoiled a little by the pompous lyrics, there comes a surprising turnaround with the instrumental/solo section in the second half that ends up being the most substantial and varied of the album, building on the efforts of the previous two songs and inserting a soft jig section for atmosphere similar to the earlier title track. This is some of the strongest evidence that this band really is a force to be reckoned with, particularly as its relatively fresh musicians are free to hone their talents on future releases.
If the album was capable of serving up even more excitement over this new band, it delivers it wonderfully with the penultimate 'Wenches & Mead'; forebodings of a cop-out comedy song certainly, but the band launches into character as metal pirates to such a degree that there's never any doubt of their sincerity, however ludicrous the lyrics ("Hey, hey, I want more wenches / Lots of wenches is what I need"). As well as going all-out on the debauchery front, this arguably represents the perfection of the synthesis between metal and sea shanty in equal measure, as the lead accordion is as prominent as the guitars and drums.
Alestorm is certainly one of the most exciting metal bands of the moment, and one that shouldn't be unfairly judged as a mere gimmick - there's some work to be done on the technical front, and more trezer and wenches to pillage before they can bottle another recording and send it back to shore with tales of their further exploits, but 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' is an incredibly fun and high quality album of modern heavy metal. Released in the UK on 28th January 2008.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Over The Seas
2 Captain Morgan's Revenge
4 Nancy The Tavern Wench
5 Death Before The Mast
6 Terror On The High Seas
7 Set Sail And Conquer
8 Of Treasure
9 Wenches And Mead
10 Flower Of Scotland