Alestorm - Sunset On The Golden Age
1 August 2014

Disc I
01. Walk The Plank
02. Drink
03. Magnetic North
04. 1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)
05. Mead From Hell
06. Surf Squid Warfare
07. Quest For Ships
08. Wooden Leg!
09. Hangover [Taio Cruz cover]
10. Sunset On The Golden Age

Disc II [Rummplugged] [mediabook bonus]
01. Over The Seas [acoustic version]
02. Nancy The Tavern Wench [acoustic version]
03. Keelhauled [acoustic version]
04. The Sunk'n Norwegian [acoustic version]
05. Shipwrecked [acoustic version]
06. Questing Upon The Poop Deck [bonus]

As the metal world's premiere posse of scurvy Scottish scoundrels, Alestorm's job is to showcase their pirate shtick without completely overshadowing the music. While Back Through Time hosted a couple of new classics and even brought some new tricks to the table, "Scraping The Barrel" rang a little too true for most of the album. I feared that Alestorm had lost their touch, but Sunset On The Golden Age has revealed that to be merely the calm before the storm.

Back Through Time's "Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid" marked an important moment for Alestorm; the shocking eruption of black metal halfway through showed the band exploring not only the far reaches of piratical gimmickry, but what it means to be a metal band underneath the swashbuckling. By my reckoning, Alestorm had already been a great band up until this point, managing to perfectly balance the recklessly fun image with solid, glorious folk metal. Back Through Time lost focus musically and was subpar as a result, enjoyable though it still was. Sunset On The Golden Age sees them pushing their own musical boundaries in a way that not only makes for a truly interesting album but saves them from becoming a nautical-themed Korpiklaani. This album proves that Alestorm are more than a one-trick pony - and while I loved that one trick, any band so single-minded has to prove their staying power at one point or another.

Dribs and drabs of death metal, hardcore, surf, new age, and even dance music seep through amongst the alcohol-soaked shanties, injecting new life into these greasy, unkempt flowers of Scotland. From the unexpectedly heroic chorus of "Walk The Plank" to the 11-plus-minute title track, a change has come over Alestorm, demonstrating that they can take their music seriously without taking themselves too seriously. Much of the album does follow the traditional Alestorm formula (snarling pirate stuff over salty keys and stormy guitars), but with some of the most delightful energy and adventure we've ever seen from them. Perhaps there is nothing surprising about "Drink" or "Wooden Leg!", but even the standards are done better this time around.

"1741 (The Battle Of Cartagena)" is this album's answer to "Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid," with its own evil symphonic passages, death growls, and demonic fury. It's about bloody time we got a song about the War of Jenkins' Ear, too. If you ever wanted to hear a pirate rap, "Hangover" has a special treat for you. As perhaps the world's first folk metal/dance-pop song, it varies from the typical Alestorm fare, but at the same time sums up everything they are about. It's self-consciously ridiculous and fun and may very well be the dumbest thing you hear today, but it still manages to be a great song that you'll look forward to hearing whenever you throw on this album.

Alestorm, like any "theme" band, face the challenge of keeping both their image and their music consistent without sacrificing one for the other. It seemed like they could slip for a moment there, but after this album, no one can question their legitimacy. Sunset On The Golden Age hardly lives up to its name; if anything, it is the dawn of a new and greater era for Alestorm. Steady as she goes, mates.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8

Band profile: Alestorm
Album: Sunset On The Golden Age


Written on 03.07.2014 by
I'm only in this for the money, fame, glory, power, and personal satisfaction.

In my spare time, I fight dragon-pig-C.H.U.D.s in space.

I feel obligated to use up all of my allotted space, so... nah, I'm out of stuff to say.
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Pitwulf93 - 04.07.2014 at 00:02  
Great to read that they managed to spice things up a bit. Drink was rather boring I thought but glad it isn't all like that. Can't wait to hear it for myself.
Sword_Chant - 04.07.2014 at 00:57  
^ totally agree 100% with the guy above, I thought 'Drink' was average at best, but based on the review and the recent samples, it's looking to be their best album yet. Will be checking out this album for sure!
Andreas - 04.07.2014 at 01:24  
Glad to read that the album isn't full of songs like Drink. That one was just boring, especially compared to previous singles like Keelhauled and Shipwrecked.
Lehctim - 07.07.2014 at 04:36  
Drink was way better than keelhauled and shipwrecked. Kill the cheesy keyboards
gangstarap - 01.08.2014 at 22:11  
It sounds like new ensiferum.
Luneth - 09.12.2014 at 01:03  
It's interesting for sure. I'd give it a 7 or 8, though. There are some nice riffs on mead from hell, and I like the overall tone of the album. Especially 1741, Walk the Plank and the title song. Probably one of those albums we'll appreciate more in 20 years time.

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