Saturday, June 11, 2011

Swashbuckle - Crewed by the Damned

"Shut up your fucking bird"

Fergus Buttpump: "Hey BastardHead, I just found this awesome band you'll probably like."

BastardHead: "Sweet, what makes you think it's my thing?"

FB: "Well, what's your favorite band?"

BH: "Running Wild, everybody knows that"

FB: "Excellent, what's Running Wild sing about?"

BH: "Apart from the Masquerade through Victory albums when they had a loose concept series going, they tend to sing about stuff like literature and history, they have a strong interest in American history as well as evidenced by "White Buffalo" and "Little Big Horn" among others. They've touched on great historical figures like Napoleon, Lawrence of Arabia, and William Ki-"


People like Fergus should be caned and bands like Alestorm and the focus of this review, Swashbuckle, should stop being compared to a band that sounds nothing like them. We can all agree that pirates are awesome and really not all that horribly different in spirit from another one of metal's favorite lyrical subjects, Vikings, so there is nothing wrong with exploring this theme. It's a brutal, rough, nasty era of history well worth the metal treatment. What I don't understand is why so many metal bands can take other historical concepts like Vikings and the Crusades and create fantastic art to go along with it, while virtually nobody can handle pirates without delving into stupid Disney style "Yo ho ho!" gimmickry. I'm not going to let my annoyance with the constant misrepresentation sway my opinion negatively here, but I certainly will let the over reliance on a cheap gimmick, unmemorable songs, and Nightfall in Middle-Earth syndrome sway me.

The sad thing is that there is plenty of potential to be found on Crewed by the Damned, the Jersey boys here are actually really competent thrashers, specializing in a heavier-than-the-norm style of east coast thrash with lots of gang shouts and a penchant for melody akin to an angrier Anthrax with a monotonous quasi-death/thrash screamer as opposed to a melodic singer. Unfortunately, for all their natural skill, they suck horribly at writing anything worth remembering. Apart from the early Slayer inspired riff at :28 in "Upon the Spanish Main", the awesomely catchy chorus in "Drink Up" and the general feel of "Dead Men Tell No Tales", there isn't much to grab your attention. Basically every song goes in one ear and out the other, and this includes the interlude tracks scattered between damn near every song. Really, I complained about there being too many on Nightfall, but it's absolutely absurd here. Of the 18 tracks, only 8 of them contain any sort of metal song within them (the unspeakably stupid cover of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song doesn't count). That's roughly only 20 minutes of of metal on a 42 minute metal album. Literally over half of Crewed by the Damned is made up of folksy pirate melodies and stupid jokes. There's a two minute track dedicated to people yelling "YARR!", it would literally be amazing if I was joking right now (yes I know I used that line in my last review, it's more fitting here, sue me).

That's not to say that all of these folksy interludes are bad, but they just clutter up too much space. "Paradise Defined" carries a very nice melody and moves along quick enough, but "What a Ship Is" and "A Fool's Errand" just never fucking leave. I honestly wonder what they're doing here, they don't set any particular mood seeing as to how they clash so blatantly with the fast and aggressive thrash metal that constitutes the actual metal songs. Did the band just enjoy screwing around with acoustic instruments on the side and figured they could shoehorn a couple of their more nautical sounding ditties onto the album just so it wouldn't seem so short? Apart from padding the album length, the interludes serve no purpose whatsoever. Adding forgettable acoustic folk interludes to an album consisting of forgettable thrash tracks just makes the album forgettable in two different styles. Bottom line, Crewed by the Damned is stupid and forgettable. There are a few moments here and there that are okay and one track that actually manages to blend the thrash with the pirate sound instead of the two ideas taking separate spaces ("Drink Up"), but the rest is an unsalvageable mess of blandness that's as dry as toast and about as appetizing.

RATING - 33%

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