True Scottish Pirate Metal
"We are Heavy Metal Pirates
Our cutlasses are true
So give us all your treasure
Or soon we'll come for you"
— "Heavy Metal Pirates", first song written by Alestorm
Alestorm is a power/folk metal band from Scotland and their main gimmick is the pirate theme of their music. Arr!
Formed in 2004 under the name Battleheart, they released a bunch of EPs (The first of which, Battleheart
, gave rise to the term 'True Scottish Pirate Metal, parodying the term 'True Norwegian Black Metal
') before signing themselves to Napalm Records and rechristening themselves Alestorm.
From there their popularity increased a fair amount and they're already doing world tours.
- Christopher Bowes - Vocals, Keyboards (2004-present)
- Dani Evans - Guitar (2007-present), Bass (2004-2007)
- Gareth "Gazz" Murdock - Bass (2009-present)
- Pete Alcorn - Drums (2010-present)
- Gavin Harper- Guitar (2004-2007)
- Lasse Lammert- Session Drummer in 2008
- Tim Shaw- Drums (2008)
- Alex "Hasselhoff" Tabisz- Guitars (2008)
- Micha "Migo" Wagner- Session Guitarist in 2007 and 2008
- Ian Wilson- Guitars (2007-2008, 2008-2010)
As Battleheart, they've released two EPs, Battleheart
and Terror on the High Seas
As Alestorm, they've released one EP and four studio albums:
- Captain Morgan's Revenge in 2008
- Leviathan (EP, also in 2008)
- Black Sails at Midnight in 2009
- Back Through Time in 2011
- Sunset on the Golden Age in 2014.
The band and their music contain examples of:
- Alien Invasion: "Surf Squid Warfare" is about a invasion of space squids, which the pirates have to travel to the future to battle.
- An Arm and a Leg: "Midget Saw" (which is about a group of pirates who saw a man's legs off after he kills a monkey) and "Wooden Leg" (about a man who loses his legs to a pair of Spanish broadsides, and then loses his arms to a Samurai in a Bar Brawl).
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "Keelhauled":
Take his money and his hat,
He won't need them where he's gonna go...
- Ascended Meme: The Limited Edition version of Back Through Time includes a cover of You Are a Pirate.
- Audience Participation Song: Plenty of their songs have this at the chorus, even on the records!
- Badass: The Huntmaster, who sailed out of hell with only a bottle of ale.
- Badass Beard: Dani Evans◊, Christopher Bowes, the zombie pirate that appears on all of their CD covers all have one.
- Badass Boast: Many of them feature this, but perhaps the most memorable is Back Through Time, specially the chorus:
"You put your faith in Odin and Thor, we put ours in cannons and whores! Your Viking gods won't save you now, when the pirates strike from the starboard bow!"
- Badass Grandpa: The Captain on the videoclip of Death Throes of the Terrorsquid In fact, he is the slayer of the aforementioned squid
- Bragging Theme Tune: "Heavy Metal Pirates."
- Brave Scot: Christopher Bowes' heavy Scottish accent does give this feeling to most songs.
- Call Back: "Huntmaster" is about a famous man on a quest to "bring back beer to the lands of the free". In "That Famous Ol' Spiced", the titular drink is touted as "a beverage to rival the Huntmaster's draft".
- The entire second verse of "Drink" references several songs from previous albums.
- Combat Pragmatist: "Back Through Time" features 17th century pirates deploying cannons against Vikings. Curb-Stomp Battle ensues.
- Cool Versus Awesome: No one is safe from pirates, including vikings, ninjas, alien squids and sea monsters.
- Cover Version: Many. "P is for Pirate" is one with slightly modified lyrics (it is now pirate-themed instead of cookie-themed). "You Are a Pirate," "Barrett's Privateers," and "Wolves of the Sea" are the most famous of their covers. They also did a version of "In the Navy." Suffice to say, if there's a nautical-themed song, a nautical-themed children's song, or a children's song that can be piratified, Alestorm stands a good chance of covering it, often hilariously. There is also their version of "I Am A Cider Drinker", originally by the Wurzels (which was itself a parody of George Baker's "Paloma Blanca").
- Sunset on the Golden Age features a cover of Taio Cruz's "Hangover".
- Curse: "'Captain Morgan's Revenge", Captain Morgan, forced to walk the plank, curses his mutinous crew to "death or worse".
- The curse on the treasure in..."'Of Treasure"...as well. We're not told explicitly what it is, but apprently it's quite terrible.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The pirates of "Back Through Time" are gleefully aware of the overkill involved in using 17th century firepower against 10th century Vikings.
- Darker and Edgier: Their second album is noticeably heavier and more aggresive than their first, and the third follows suit.
- Deconstruction: While they do sing about the joys and adventures of piracy, Pirate's Song is a rather brutal deconstruction of the whole romantic pirate, showing the singing protagonist as a ruthless monster who lost all his glory in his old age.
- Determinator: Some characters in songs, like the Huntmaster and the narrator in Chronicles of Vengeance.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Leviathan sets up for this in it's sequel, Death Throes of the Terrorsquid.
- Disproportionate Retribution: "Midget Saw"', wherein a pirate gets his legs sawed off for the crime of killing a monkey. It must have been one awesome little primate.
- Downer Ending: A sizeable number of their songs talk about people who go on quests but end up dying brutally along the way. Such as: Death Before the Mast, Magnetic North, To The End Of Our Days, Leviathan and so forth.
- End of an Age: The song Sunset On The Golden Age which is about facing the end of a golden age. It's a tad vague what age they're refering to, but it can be interpreted as the end of the Golden Age of Piracy. The lyrics do leave the implication that another golden age may come in the future.
''The sun has set, now night is falling
Never again to hear the calling
- Face Death with Dignity: The pirate crew in "Captain Morgan's Revenge".
At sunrise we will dance the hempen jig / So raise up your pint of rum and take another swig! / The curse of Captain Morgan has led us to this fate / So have no fear and don't look back, the afterlife awaits!
- Gorn: The lyrics to "Midget Saw":
Midget Saw, a deadly fate
Chopped up limbs become shark bait
Midget Saw, the pirate's code
It says that both your legs must go
Hacked to pieces
Ripped to shreds
You're gonna wish that you were dead!
- Guttural Growler: The singing style of Christopher Bowes.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Mentioned in Nancy The Tavern Wench, "She may be old/but her beauty ain't failin'."
- Grim Up North: Magnetic North is about a Pirate crew questing to "Magnetic North" and subsequently facing a frozen sea, and probably dying along the way.
- Heavy Mithril
- Hook Hand: The main zombie pirate on the cover of "Black Sails At Midnight" has a trident replacing one hand, He also has a sword but you can't see if he's holding it or if it's a Blade Below the Shoulder.
- Wolves of the Sea contains the lyrics "The hook of our Captain is looking at you"
- Horrible History Metal: They ventured in this genre with "1741 (The Battle of Cartagenea)", about the battle of the same name.
- Insane Admiral: Or Captain, but with the same purpose. In 1741 (The Battle of Cartagenea), the Captain sails against the Spanish despite overwhelming evidence that he's going to lose, and so he dooms himself and his crew to a Last Stand.
- Intercourse with You: "Questing Upon The Poop Deck" is most certainly not about a type of sexual activity.
- Large Ham: Christopher Bowes definitely qualifies.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: The Huntmaster. "Out of the bowels of hell he sailed/ Wielding a tankard of freshly brewed ale!"
- Listeners Are Geniuses: "The Huntmaster" ends by quoting the English translation of the poem inscribed on bottles of Jägermeister, which itself is the German word for "Huntmaster".
- Little People Are Surreal: A midget shows up in "Shipwrecked", in a hallucination.
- Metal Band Mascot: Two: A zombie-ish pirate and a pirate rat, who appear in all three covers. According to Christopher Bowes, they're called Jimmy McFucknugget and Barry Shitpeas respectively.
- Ghost Pirate: Jimmy.
- Hook Hand: Jimmy again, except for "Black Sails at Midnight" where he has a trident.
- Mission from God: The Huntmaster's is "To bring back beer to the land of the free, this is his quest, his true destiny!"
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally 7 or 8, with "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid" ratcheting up to an easy 9.
- Mood Whiplash: Present in Black Sails At Midnight, where from the blood-pumping and bombastic Keelhauled we go to the somber and depressive To The End Of Our Days. Also in Sunset On The Golden Age, after the silly and ridiculous cover of Hangover the album goes to the title track, which is eleven minutes long and one of the few grim and serious Alestorm songs.
- The Mutiny: Kicks off "Captain Morgan's Revenge." When the pirates make the captain walk the plank, he pronounces a dying curse upon them all.
- The Need for Mead: Wenches and Mead. Also Mead From Hell.
- Ode to Intoxication: "Rum", and the cover song "I Am A Cider Drinker", Drink.
- One-Man Army: The Huntmaster vanquishes a considerable number of people single-handedly.
- Once Upon a Time: "In a time men knew the meaning of fear!" the opening lines of "Huntmaster".
- Out-of-Genre Experience: When the titular monster awakens, Death Throes of the Terrorsquid abruptly becomes a Dimmu Borgir song. Their cover of Hangover also features a brief rapping portion by the bassist of Lagerstein, tourmates with Alestorm.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late
- The Quest: Lots of these, including a track by the same name.
- Redemption Equals Death: The protagonists of Magnetic North mention to be seeking redemption in the titular location, but the song frequently note they'll most certainly die along the way.
- Redemption Quest: Magnetic North is a minor example.
- Retired Monster: The narrator of Pirate Song.
- Rock Beats Laser: 17th Century pirates halt an alien invasion of space squids in Surf Squid Warfare.
- Sea Monster: Leviathan, the Terrorsquid.
- Sequel Song: "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid" is a sequel to "Leviathan", as both songs feature a beast called "Leviathan" and follow some sort of chronology. "Leviathan" has the pirate crew hunt down an ancient beast of yore to battle it, but lose the battle and the beast escapes after slaughtering most of the crew. "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid" concerns the Crew's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the beast, and the second round of the battle.
- "Surf Squid Warfare" is a sequel to "Back Through Time", where the pirates travel into the future to fight undead squids from space.
You may think you've heard all this music before,
That Running Wild did it back in '84
But times are a-changing and we don't give a damn!
So if you don't like it, go start your own band!
- One of the band's two mascots, the pirate rat Barry Shitpeas, shares a name with a character from Charlie Brooker's works.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: Bowes' natural voice is much softer than his guttural harsh tone in the songs.
- Sky Pirates: "Heavy Metal Pirates" seems to be about them ("We're the Heavy Metal Pirates, we sail across the sky!")
- Slasher Smile: Jimmy cracks one of these at the covers of "Black Sails At Midnight", "Back Through Time" and the "Leviathan" solo cover.
- Take That:
- Swashbuckled is a playful repartee at Alestorm's friends, fellow pirate band Swashbuckle, in response to the latter's We Are The Storm.
- Scraping the Barrel, off of Back Through Time, is a response to some of the band's criticism as being a "gimmicky band" that will eventually become dry. Their response? "If you don't like it, go start your own band."
- The song "Back Through Time", concerning a ship of pirates that travel through time and wind up fighting and defeating a ship of vikings, is clearly mocking the many bands that sing about vikings and Norse Mythology.
You put your faith in Odin and Thor
We put ours in cannons and whores
Your viking gods won't save you now
When pirates strike from the starboard bow
- Talk Like a Pirate: Well, yeah.
- Took a Level in Badass: "Leviathan" and "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid" concern the same crew. In the first the monster slaughters them with impunity, but in the second the crew takes revenge. The chorus makes it clear: The chorus in the first song is about the beast's fearsome slaughter, the chorus in the second is the crew's Badass Boast.
- Unreliable Narrator: Interestingly enough, we're never told exactly why the perpetrator is being keelhauled in Keelhauled. We pretty much just have the narrator's word for it that he did something bad.
I will not say what he has done
His sins are far too great to tell
It's not my place to judge a man
But for them he will burn in Hell
- Verbed Title: Keelhauled, Shipwrecked.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: In the video for "Shipwrecked", several of the wenches are shown secreting coins in their cleavage.
- Villain Protagonist: The songs are aware they are talking about a bunch of selfish, petty and murderous thieves. The clearest example is "Pirate's Song", which describes a Retired Monster of a pirate elaborating on his numerous crimes and how he doesn't feel an ounce of remorse.
- Walk the Plank: In Captain Morgan's Revenge and Keelhauled, in the latter case as a pretext to something far worse. In Sunset On The Golden Age they now have a track named "Walk the Plank".
- Would Hurt a Child: One of the verses of Pirate's Song is "I've killed and I've shot, and reddened the cold tears of children with blood!", driving home just how much of a Retired Monster our protagonist is.
- Wretched Hive: A lot of these tend to show up in the songs, such as the cafe in Nancy the Tavern Wench and the inn where That Famous Ol' Spiced is apparently served, not to mention the titular tavern known as The Sunken Norwegian.