No Grave But The Sea is Alestorm’s sixth full studio album and their first since 2014’s Sunset On The Golden Age. If you prefer traditional pirate music then this is not likely for you as this is pirate metal. I personally am a big fan of the band, I like all manner of pirate music from traditional to metal, and have even seen them live…even if I don’t remember that portion of the concert. Sixth Street, what can I say. So before we dive right in the question some may have, do I buy the Deluxe Edition or not? Well I say do it if for no other reason to give money to talent musicians. If you’re a bit stingy or a bit short you’re not “missing” anything with just the regular album.
No Grave But The Sea is an album with more than one highs but it does have a few lows for me that drove the ranking down a bit. What it does a great job doing in all songs however is show that Alestorm are great storytellers and every single song on this album shows that. A reminder I have no musical degree, no special skills, these are just my opinions and with any review you should come to your own conclusion. I can only give my honest opinion of someone who listens to pirate music daily as to how I think.
“No Grave But The Sea” is the opener for the album and it is obviously a traditional sounding Alestorm song and in my opinion a great opening song. It would surprise me if this does not become a concert mainstay as it is a great crowd sing a long chorus that many will enjoy. The song itself does not feel overly complex and it has a great violin bit that folks who have read previous reviews know I enjoy. As a warm up to the album can’t ask for much more.
In 2015 Alestorm went on tour with The Dread Crew of Oddwood and “Mexico” feels inspired by those SoCal pirates. Maybe it’s because I know their music so well that this song reminds me so much of “Land Ho” and can only wonder if that song inspired Alestorm to write their own version of sorts. The song is great fun with fantastic lyrics again with another beautiful violin portion.
“To The End of the World” has amazing moments but portions of the song didn’t exactly work for me. I’m not sure if it is a mixing problem or intentional but the lyrics are hard to hear outside of the chorus. Which isn’t a complete problem since there are great mixtures of guitar and trumpets and the drumming on the song really stand out. The chorus tells a great story, I just wish I could understand the entire story, I just couldn’t hear it. It does however showcase a lot of different instruments and in that I am a big fan.
“Alestorm” has a tremendous start to the song. This song feels like they are invoking the previous Alestorm albums and connects it back to previous works. The chorus mentions Rum, Beer, Quests and Mead; see where I’m going when I say that? The one turnoff of the song was a bit of the death growl singing. That type of singing has never really done it for me and the song may have been perfect if not for that.
When I saw the track title “Bar ünd Imbiss” I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but boy was I in for a treat. It has a great chorus which appears to be a theme so far of the album (essentially a pirate’s life for me until the day I die). This too should be another fun live song and perhaps the perfect song to put in the middle of this album.
Sometimes you see a song title and you think, yep it’s going to be a hit unless the title is a complete swerve. “Fucked With An Anchor” fucking delivers. This is easily going to be a fan favorite and could easily be an gateway song for those who don’t usually listen to Alestorm. Now if you’re not a fan of colorful metaphors this song isn’t for you. But this is going to be a big time live hit. I would even go so far as this is a great “ending” song, you know the one the band plays before the encore as the entire crowd will sing it and demand more. Although this song is fun it still manages to tell a story and that may be the most impressive thing about it.
“Pegleg Potion” may be hampered by having to follow “Anchor”. The start feels a bit generic and while the chorus is a bright spot, a trademark of almost every Alestorm song, the rest is just a bit there and is missing that IT.
Sometimes though you need that song in-between two outstanding pieces of work, which is exactly what “Man The Pumps” is, outstanding. At this point it should be no surprise since it starts with a violin showcase at the start of the song. This is beautiful example of storytelling in all its forms, from lyrics to music. This may be the best bit of storytelling Alestorm has ever done when you look at the complete package. It is a song that just grows on you as it goes on and I think is the high point of this album.
Sadly with any highs comes a low and for me on this album it has to be “Rage of the Pentahook”. It may struggle like “Pegleg”, coming right after a fantastic song, but it just never gets going. It begins and there’s this feeling like something interesting is about to happen and it just never arrives. Similar to the problem of “End” the drums and guitars overpower the lyrics outside of the chorus and as such hurts the storytelling portion of the song.
“Treasure Island” is an interesting final piece, and there’s a lot to like about it. There is an interesting start of trumpets that leads into a Dragon Force feeling guitar bit. I think maybe my favorite portion of the song was including lyrics from “The Derelict” within it. it was an unexpected surprise and a delight. Sadly those were the highlights lyrically for me. It almost feels like the song was hurt by too many ideas within the song, but that’s just an initial reaction. The last minute of the song is absolutely beautiful and makes me want to hear an acoustic version of the song.
Overall fans of Alestorm likely will not be disappointed in this album. What you love from the band is there and has at least two songs that should stay on the concert rotation for years to come. They continue to showcase their storytelling talents and don’t appear to have a lack of ideas and themes they wish to present.