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Album Reviews : Alestorm – Black Sails at Midnight

By on October 25, 2009

Alestorm_BSaM240The self-proclaimed ‘Scottish Pirate Metallers’ are back with this, their second full length, Black Sails at Midnight. Chock full of more shanty antics and singalong tunes, Alestorm have continued along the path that they innovated only a few years ago.

It was always going to be hard to match the calibre and initial shock of their debut, Captain Morgan’s Revenge, and I feel that they haven’t quite hit the mark on this album. Whilst the catchy choruses and epic riffs are still present, it lacks the overall pleasant feel and effectiveness that was heard on their previous effort.

That being said, Black Sails at Midnight is still an enjoyable listen, and tracks such Keelhauled and Leviathan are obviously going to fit excellently into the live show. The opener ‘The Quest’ is also a standout, as is the creatively titled ‘Pirate Song’.

Musically there is no doubt about Alestorm’s performance, with keytar shredding and guitar lead tradeoffs throughout the album. This is a positive element in the music amidst all of the cheesiness to remind you that whilst the band might be a bit tongue in cheek, they are still definitely serious about their metal. Christopher Bowes’ vocals once again sit well sounding like a unique and powerful pirate.

I think where this album let me down is the inconsistency and atmosphere of the album as a whole. Take the title track for example, there are some strange guitar riffs evident that could almost be comparable to a Children Of Bodom sort of style, something that I believe doesn’t suit Alestorm at all. There is also some ‘hardcore’ styled yells in this song, and throughout the CD, that can be effective when used sparingly (such as in ‘Leviathan’), but seem to have gone a bit overboard (so to speak) with their usage. I also dislike the track ‘To The End Of Our Days’ which is a bad attempt at rehashing the classic ‘Nancy The Tavern Wench’.

Overall, the album is ok. If you’re a huge Alestorm fan and must buy it, then do so, it’s sure to get a few spins in the stereo. If you’re new to the band, check out Captain Morgan’s Revenge instead. They have a unique sound standing them apart from the folk metal scene and can definitely be a lot of fun. I just hope next time around they produce something again that really hits you over the head with a bottle of rum and a yo ho ho.


Band: Alestorm
: Black Sails at Midnight
: 2009
Genre: Pirate Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Origin: Perth, Scotland

Track listing:
1. The Quest
2. Leviathan
3. That Famous Ol’ Spiced
4. Keelhauled
5. To the End of Our Days
6. Black Sails at Midnight
7. No Quarter
8. Pirate Song
9. Chronicles of Vengeance
10. Wolves of the Sea

Reviewed by Cabba


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.