With the quiet creak of tarred timbers and the wash of lapping waves, a sudden crack of canon fire throws the crew from their hammocks. Confused and panicking, they scramble on deck only to witness the dark shadow of the brigantine ALESTORM hove into view. At its tiller stands Captain Morgan with a decade of revenge in his good eye. Fight or flight – you decide...
Captain Morgan's Revenge was the debut album released by Alestorm in the year of our lord 2008 on Napalm Records. Ten years later and this Scottish pirate metal outfit have sailed the seven seas and built a firm following, catapulting them into the upper echelons of metal. They have marked the quest so far with the re-release of that eponymous debut album that launched a thousand wannabes. Remixed and remastered by original producer Lasse Lammert at his LSD studios in Lübeck, Germany, this fresh release blows like a fresh Nassau wind and heralds just how far this band of buccaneers have ventured.
Hearties Chris Bowes (Vocals), Máté Bodor (Guitar), Gareth Murdock (Bass), Elliot Vernon (Keyboards) and Peter Alcorn (Drums) are a seasoned act with global credibility and this polished album is made all the more seaworthy with the addition 11 live tracks recorded at the Summer Breeze Festival, Dinkelsbühl, Germany back in 2015.
Overall, this cannonball of an album is more anthemic, powerful and downright nastier than the admirable earlier release. Casting off with ‘Over the Seas’, this double-kick shanty features growled lyrics and shouted choruses that will have even the most sensitive landlubber develop a snarling lip and thousand yard stare.
The sheer pace and fury of the title track is given the authentic melody of an age at sea by Bowes and Vernon’s keys. The lyrics tell a tale of mutiny and the fate of those involved – never to feel joy again. It’s no walk in the park being a pirate it would appear.
The original album still contains some gems that are played in the live set. The slowed lilt of ‘Nancy the Tavern Wench’ is a pint of mead-in-the-air sing-along that features sublime guitar work with a thick molasses tone that reminds the listener that this is no parody. These are serious musicians as witnessed in the bass line and riffs of ‘Death Before the Mast’ which oozes pure 80s thrash as does the edgy ‘Terror on the High Seas’. There are no smiles in these tracks and they are only given the genre-feel with the keyboard melody and lyrical content. These tracks prove that Alestorm can bite like the sting of the cat o’ nine tails.
There are moments on the album where the voyage takes a different course. The acoustic and percussive air in ‘Of Treasure’ has a traditional feel that verges on folk. It’s this ability to take the listener somewhere else that seals the deal.
The change of attack leads seamlessly back into the galloping ‘Wenches and Mead’. Those force ten double kick drums of Alcorn evoke a frenzied delivery that support the swashbuckling life described through the album.
Closing the album is the altogether original ‘Flower of Scotland’ – a stern nod to the band’s homeland. The military snare work and gang vocal gives this an eye watering pride that those from Alba will always enjoy. Maybe Axel Rose was onto something in that kilt?
The live tracks were recorded at the Summer Breeze festival in 2015 (if you’re quick, you can see them there again in 2018). The live tracks are well produced and capture the passion and unique crowd interaction that Bowes is famous for (“Are you ready to go completely underwater dogshit insane?”). Live tracks can sink or swim and these take to the water and freestyle all the way to the changing rooms.
Tracks like ‘Keelhauled’ and the anthem ‘Drink’ are stand outs. The latter is the real haul of booty on the album as who could resist the temptation to sing that chorus with your crew mates, cutlass held aloft in celebration. The breakdown in the song where Murdock’s bass drives the foot stomps is a pure crowd pleaser and will always see the grog flying. Is there a better known Alestorm track? I don’t think so.
‘Keelhauled’ itself is a crashing tsunami of melody and staccato bursts driving a tempo changing rhythm structure. If you aren’t out of breath listening to it then you clearly aren’t alive above the neck line. Bowes’ is clearly enjoying this one as he is heard laughing as he attempts to keep up. The vaguely Russian sounding melody in the breakdown and beyond is fantastic and gives what is a frantic performance, a lighter edge. Any song with “A Yo Ho Ho” in it is a winner in my books.
Bowes’ glues the show together with veiled insults and one liners that only he could get away with. There are few artists who could threaten violence and endear himself to the crowd rather than receiving their pint glasses in the kisser. Perhaps the presence of an eight foot duck on the Alestorm stage breaks the ice before the band ever set foot on it.
The closing salvo is the title track of the album and I defy anyone not to wish they were in that pit. I swear you can feel the crowd squeezed up against you. Bowles whips the frenzied crowd with the bellowed command “Bang your fuckin’ head”. Best do as he says lest you be keelhauled. It wasn’t that long ago when this track was honoured by a Glaswegian wall of death in the O2 ABC. Way scarier than any musket shot in the guts!
So, as you consider the voyage you have endured and the waves you have ridden, you can take a deep breath and recall the distant shores you have sailed. With land under your boots, you can at last feel the relief at being spared Davy Jones’ locker. You have survived Captain Morgan’s Revenge!
Alestorm are the band you should go see....so go see ‘em.
Hold this album to your ear and I swear you will hear the sea.
Captain Morgan`s Revenge – 10th Anniversary Edition set sail on 26th January on Napalm Records. You can pillage the album on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and at -
Avast! Check them out at –
Studio Album Track List -
Captain Morgan’s Revenge:
Over the Seas
Captain Morgan’s Revenge
Nancy the Tavern Wench
Death before the Mast
Terror on the High Seas
Set Sail and Conquer
Wenches & Mead
Flower of Scotland
Live at Summer Breeze 2015:
Actual Human Intro
Walk the Plank
The Sunk'n Norwegian
That Famous Ol' Spiced
Nancy the Tavern Wench
Captain Morgan's Revenge