Ahoy! Imagine a ship full of sweaty and inebriated pirates making their way to land for the first time in eons, only to regale the landlocked denizens at MTelus tales of brazen alcohol consumption and perilous ocean conquests. Now, multiply that by a thousand and throw in a skillfully played keytar, and you have the enigmatic Alestorm. With numerous fans in attendance donning squid hats and pirate attire, you could sense the excitement in the air for the inevitable pirate metal fiesta.
Kicking off the night’s action was Aephanemer, a melodic death metal band hailing from France. Led by the proficient Marion Bascoul (vocalist and guitarist), the four-piece ensemble did an excellent job spurring the audience and warming up the fans for the headlining act. Starting with “Prokopton,” the self-titled track from their latest release, it was easy to understand why they were chosen to support the zany Scottish pirates. Their music proved to be an excellent technical counterbalance to the Alestorm’s charming goofiness.
If anyone in the crowd wasn’t paying attention during their set, the hellacious introduction to “Snowblind” definitely woke everyone up. Despite the fast and furious pace, the seven-song setlist came to a close as quickly as it began with the final two tracks, “Bloodline” and “Path of the Wolf.” “Bloodline” in particular was a highlight of the night as it showcased furious breakdowns, torrential blast beats, and fierce riffage that galvanized the metalheads in the venue to throw up their horns and mosh.
A delightful surprise was getting to hear Marion’s vocals stand out during the Aephanemer’s performance. Her growls were quite impressive and matched the relentless ferocity of the band’s music. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, their sound is an intriguing, uplifting melodic death metal sound mixed with devilish symphonic accents. With two full-length albums to their name, I came away very impressed by their performance and can’t wait to see how they’ll progress in the coming years.
…AND NOW THE MAIN EVENT!
Before the final act commenced, “Bohemian Rhapsody” blasted through the speakers to warm up the crowd. The karaoke rendition from the crowd was too infectious not to partake, almost as if it was a ritualist séance to beckon our pirate metal overlords.
Rubber ducky time! For a band that’s heavily reliant on a well-crafted gimmick (self-proclaimed “True Scottish Pirate Metal), there’s no doubting that Alestorm is one of the most reliable live acts in the new era of heavy metal. With the mad genius Christopher Bowes (vocalist, keytarist, and primary songwriter) leading the charge, Alestorm has cemented itself as a respectable act within the heavy metal community.
As expected, the crowd erupted for the quick-paced party tune “Keelhauled,” a track that would make Jack Sparrow himself chant: “Make that bastard walk the plank with a bottle of rum and a yo-ho-ho.” Wasting no time, the band ripped through thrashers “Alestorm,” “Magnetic North,” and my personal favourite, “The Sunk’n Norwegian,” the last of which prompted the crowd the chant “One more drink!” at the top of their lungs. With a giant rubber duck situated in the middle of the stage and colourful lights shining on the band, Alestorm brought everything they had for a crowd that’s been known to party hard and leave metal acts speechless time after time.
Alestorm’s animated stage presence is a vital part of their concerts, and there were plenty of memorable moments throughout the night. Between hammering out tunes at a frenetic pace, downing shots of tequila, and chugging several beers before the aptly titled “Hangover,” the entire night felt like the drunken convention of sea-dwellers featuring an endless supply of Caribbean rum. “Nancy the Tavern Wench” gave the audience a bit of a breather before ripping into more furious pirate metal tracks, the most entertaining of which was the epic “1741 (The Battle of Cartagena).” If you’re familiar with Alestorm’s subject matter, you’ll understand that there’s no possible way to last through an entire show without buying a couple of drinks to satiate one’s desire for a drink. After taking a break from all the jumping up and down like peg-leg Pete, the music must have been an efficient exhibition of subliminal advertising because I ended up ordering rum and cokes to quench my thirst. Thank you, Captain Morgan.
Soaked from spilled beer (not mine, don’t worry) and drenched in sweat, I couldn’t help myself but dive deeper into the pit for the encore, featuring fan favourites “Drink” and “Fucked with an Anchor,” the latter of which has become an anthemic tune for the band. While the concert was rather short overall, the party-filled atmosphere mixed with excellent music made for an entertaining night. Alestorm is simply one of those bands you have to see at least once to experience the craziness on display at their shows.
And on that note, I shall drink a bottle of rum with a yo-ho-ho.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
Photography Nicolas Racine
*edited by Danielle Kenedy