Alestorm - Back Through Time
Napalm Records
Folk/Power Metal
11 songs (43:02)
Release year: 2011
Alestorm, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Jaime
I have a bit of a love/hate thing with Alestorm. On the one hand you basically never see a Scottish metal band get any press, so for Alestorm to be as big as they are is a great thing to see. They're also pretty nice guys in real life. On the other, they're not the best in the world and it's rather disheartening for the biggest of the three or so Scottish metal groups that've been noticed as of late to be a gimmick band. So, has the joke worn off the third time round?

Lyrically Alestorm haven't exactly changed from their themes of booze and pirates that should all be taken with a pinch of salt, however there are a few standout tracks lyrically like Buckfast Powersmash, an ode to Scotland's unofficial alcohol of choice that unfortunately doesn't build upon the trashy intro, instead repeating it in between some cheesy folk metal and chromatic sections. The little carnival-esque interlude's quite a novel touch though. There is also Scraping The Barrel, which is probably the best track on the album. I've always found the band's slower, seemingly more serious, songs to be their standout tracks and this is no difference. The lyrics are full of barbs at those who deride the band's gimmick as stale and overdone including a rather amusing verse that has a go at those calling them Running Wild ripoffs amongst other things. Unlike Buckfast Powersmash the music holds up a bit better but suffers from the main problem that runs though this album and the band's discography: It sounds like they've written this song before.

On the music side there are a few points of interest. Opener Back Through Time's melodeath intro and repeated sections was unexpected, in a good way, but the band trot out their standard fare for most of the track: the verses and choruses being interchangeable with most of their back catalogue. Sadly this is the case for the majority of the album. The aforementioned Buckfast Powersmash is a tad different, as is Rumpelkombo (trying to beat You Suffer in the short song stakes perhaps?) and Death Throes of The Terrorsquid which throws back to Alestorm's previous track Leviathan. It's a big, epic, cheesy-in-the-power-metal-sense track that rounds off the album on a high note. The scale of the thing is grand compared to everything else here and there are probably a few power metal bands that’d be rather jealous of what's on show. Bal-Sagoth would be proud to say the least. There's also a guest solo from Týr guitarist Heri Joensen, who pops up in penultimate track Barrett's Privateers and does his thing that he does so well.

Credit where it's due, Alestorm's shtick still manages to hold up after three albums (and an EP), but only just. Rather than the lyrical content running dry I'd be more concerned about their song writing pool, which comes across as fairly shallow when there are only two or three songs that are somewhat different to the rest. On the whole it's what you'd expect from them, songs about booze, although not so much wenches, and privateering, the yo-ho-ho piratey riffs, mascot Barry Shitpeas (not what the label calls him) on the cover and a general feeling of them not taking it too seriously. Those who like the band'll be left happy, those who bemoan them will continue to do so, and if it means more songs like Scraping The Barrel then so be it, and for the most part they'll play to massive drunken crowds who'll be singing along to almost every word when they take to the stage.
Killing Songs :
Scraping The Barrel, Rumpelkombo, Death Throes of The Terrorsquid
Jaime quoted 73 / 100
Other albums by Alestorm that we have reviewed:
Alestorm - Sunset on the Golden Age reviewed by Andy and quoted 72 / 100
Alestorm - Black Sails At Midnight reviewed by Kyle and quoted 78 / 100
Alestorm - Captain Morgan's Revenge reviewed by Ross and quoted 80 / 100
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