Alestorm – Sunset on the Golden Age
Release Date: August 5, 2014
As a fan of all heavy metal genres, it typically makes me uncomfortable calling something a specific genre based on lyrical content alone. That’s one reason why I personally don’t get calling something “viking metal” just because the songs are about Norse mythology. Similarly, I can still remember the first time I was told about Alestorm, and they were described to me simply as “pirate metal”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really take that description seriously. That was however, until I listened to them. Their debut album Captain Morgan’s Revenge (2008) hit the metal scene worldwide like a vast shower of cannon balls and rum, relentlessly full of catchy tunes and hard-hitting drinking songs. To this day their sound is oddly unique, addictive, and heavy as hell, and with their fourth full-length album Sunset on the Golden Age, this still stands true.
“Walk the Plank” kicks off the album with a huge fanfare, but the epic feeling slowly turns into a heavy, guitar driven riff that truly sets the tone of the rest of the release. Surprisingly thrashy, with folk and power metal elements thrown in, this song particularly shows that the band deserves some serious credit as musicians and songwriters. “Drink” immediately follows, and happened to be the band’s first single and video for this album, which is a must watch. The lyrics are great, creatively tying in earlier songs like “Heavy Metal Pirates” and “Shipwrecked” but the vocal layering and folk instrumentation really gives it a larger than life sound. You would be doing yourself a serious disservice by not swinging a beer along to this one.
Moving along throughout the release is the song “Mead From Hell” which again ties in some great folk instrumentation and keyboard work with clever lyrics. Although it’s short-lived, there is a noteworthy guitar solo after the second chorus that really soars above the song. It’s groovy and bluesy, and really sticks out from the drive of the rest of the song, but it is quite addictive. “Wooden Leg” towards the end of the album is one of the funniest tracks, despite the impressive keyboard, bass, and drum work. It’s a very fast tempo song about, what else, having wooden legs and some other unfortunate circumstances. I would like to challenge anyone to take a swig of their beer for every time Chris Bowes shouts “wooden leg” and you have to let me know how that goes for you.
Now to my favorite track on the album, “Hangover”, a Taio Cruz cover. This song is stuck in my head all day long, and I am in no way complaining. This is a crowd-pleaser from start to finish, with hilarious layered chanting that everyone will be singing along to after the first listen. In the middle of the song there is this throwback to the 90’s rap/rock days but somehow it fits in perfectly. The album closes with the impressive, over eleven minute title track that musically blew me away. It’s slower tempo, while still driving along with great guitar and keyboard elements. I really couldn’t imagine a better way to end this album. It proves that while the band is obviously enjoying themselves and truly having fun with their music, they are very serious musicians capable of writing an amazing epic to close this record strong.
As still a relatively young band, Alestorm has been able to mature their sound unbelievably in the past few years. Sunset on the Golden Age is easily their strongest, fullest, and biggest sounding album in their discography. It’s so heavy, yet it’s catchy and at times hilarious, making it an easy and enjoyable listen that’s hard to turn off. If I could make one complaint about the album, it’s that it isn’t nearly long enough. So I’ll raise my pint of rum and take another swig as I listen to it again! Cheers to Alestorm for this fantastic release!