|Review: Alestorm - Black Sails at Midnight|
|Black Sails at Midnight|
Label: Napalm Records
Year released: 2009
Review online: October 12, 2010
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:Black Sails at Midnight
Alestorm made a bit of a splash with their debut CD Captain Morgan's Revenge, and obviously decided to strike while the iron was hot, getting this second disc out as fast as they could. The band released Black Sails at Midnight less than 16 months after the release of the debut – while touring in between – and the rush to get it done shows more than a bit in the songwriting.
This is not bad, but it suffers by comparison to the gleeful energy of Captain Morgan's Revenge. This album is professionally produced, and much heavier in sound, but the songwriting is not as lively, nor are the choruses as memorable and fun. A lot of this music is just workmanlike, with the rhythm guitars churning grimly along while Chris Bowes garbles along without any excitement or feeling. The keys frequently just double the dim vocal lines, so there is nothing to really hang onto to make the song stand out. I think the mix is partly to blame here, as it makes the sound too thick and doesn't let any one part rise above the mess. I can personally attest that many of these songs play very well live, as I heard them on tour before this album was even released. The mix doesn't do anything to punch up the choruses or help the key melodies stand out, producing an album that is heavy and 'modern' sounding, but rather muddy and unfocused. It is probably a major feat of studio wizardry that Chris Bowes' tremendous charisma is totally removed from this recording.
A lot of people are using this album as an excuse to write off Alestorm, but really, I just see a young band who got rushed through their sophomore album and didn't know enough about how to properly record their music to capture on disc what makes them great. This album sure could have been better, and I hope their next one is, because they have it in them.
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