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Album Reviews : Swashbuckle – Back to the Noose

By on August 18, 2009

swashbuckle-backtothenooseThe term pirate metal has been around since the heydays of Running Wild.

Sadly, in recent months Running Wild have “walked the plank” as it were, and have split after nearly 30 years of pirate laden themes of mutiny, debauchery and anarchy.

Thankfully, this pseudo metal genre has been given a rebirth in recent years, with the introduction of many bands resurrecting the genre.

Swashbuckle hail from New Jersey in the United States, and are one of many “pirate” metal bands who have infused pirate melodies with a clash of death and thrash metal, making it a unique listening experience.

It took me awhile to get into Swashbuckle, and to be honest, I’m still having a hard time getting into their unique blend of “pirate” laden metal. Their sound is somewhat similar to Verbal Deception, another band who use pirate themes, yet sway more to the sounds of death metal, then anything resembling folk, or eastern European elements. For example, Scotland’s Alestorm.

Swashbuckle‘s pirate mentality is leading more towards a modern day cruise liner with giant lasers and rockets attached to it, then a rickety old pirate ship were wrenches, mutiny and chlamydia are aplenty.

Having said that, they still offer a unique listening experience with their short, fast and utmost modern day brutal album, ‘Back to the Noose’. Most tracks are around the 2 minute 30 second mark, with many intervals of acoustic pirate melodies, and spoken word parodies which add more amusement to the album’s theme of drunken pirate stupidity.

‘Scurvy Back’ opens the album with a quirky pirate themed bass line, yet quickly is overtaken with the bands fundamental sound of brutal drums, heavy guitars and Admiral Nobeard’s infusion of death and thrash metal vocals. Musically, its more of an infusion of early Anthrax, Municipal Waste and The Haunted, with a slight hint of folk metal influence.

The band’s first single, ‘Cruise Ship Terror’ seems to resemble much of the entire album. Drums and bass seem to be endlessly repetitious, while vocals don’t have much variation. Acoustic numbers add a nice touch, yet don’t really hold the integrity of the entire album. The band have somehow balanced two extremes of the metal world, and oddly enough have made this bizarre blend seem to work in the patch work of the album.

There are some fantastic acoustic numbers which I was extremely impressed with, many resembling a sound close, to say ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, or to a lesser extent the old school adventure video game, ‘Monkey Island’.

It’s a solid album, but after awhile, it just seems to lose its finesse and charm. To be honest, I found the album to be a bit chopped up in some places. The album seems a little chaotic in its delivery, and seems to fall apart quite quickly, with little to no variation in diversity, and at times doesn’t flow at all.

Maybe in due time I can learn to appreciate this unique blend, but to be honest I’m not entirely impressed with this release. Clearly, Swashbuckle‘s themes of pirates has given them an edge over many folk and power metal bands within the same genre, yet many may feel unsatisfied with the albums entire sound and style, which seems to border on the hard and heavy, with little to no variation in folk metal influences. Unless of course, you actually like your pirate metal short, fast and loud. 6.5/10

For fans of: Municipal Waste, Anthrax, The Haunted, Verbal Deception, Alestorm

Band: Swashbuckle
Album: Back to the Noose
Year: 2009
Genre: Pirate/Thrash/Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Origin: New Jersey, USA
Australian Distribution: Riot! Entertainment – Click here to purchase

Track listing:
1. Hoist the Mainsails
2. Scurvy Back
3. Back to the Noose
4. Cloudy With a Chance of Priacy
5. We Sunk Your Battleship
6. Rounds of Rum <- Reviewer’s choice
7. Carnivalé Boat Ride
8. Rime Of The Haggard Mariner
9. Cruise Ship Terror
10. No Prey No Pay
11. La Leyenda
12. Splash-N-Thrash
13. The Grog Box
14. The Tradewinds <- Reviewer’s choice
15. Attack!!!
16. Peg-Leg Stomp
17. Whirlpit
18. All Seemed Fine Until..
19. It Came From The Deep!
20. Shipwrecked..
21. Sharkbait


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.