Alestorm/Claim The Throne/Darkest Era - Bristol, The Fleece - 7th February 2012 Print E-mail
Written by Matt Phelps   
Saturday, 25 February 2012 05:15



First band of the night were Ireland's Darkest Era who turned out a power filled set of emotive dark and brooding metal. Frontman Krum, like a hirsute Ozzy, added strength to the doomy style with a powerful voice that mixed with the musical cocktail that is 'To Face The Black Tide' to create such an apocalyptic ambience it was easy to imagine the world itself was breaking apart outside, Fantasia style.


Holding onto the last bar standing as the Nothing outside consumed the masses of the ignorant it was great to see that plenty of switched on people had turned up early for the Irish openers and some "Hey! Hey!" chants even had fists in the air all the way to the back of the Fleece. Equally impressive tunes from their brand new debut album, 'The Last Caress Of Light', such as 'An Ancient Fire Burns', 'Heathen Burial' and set closer 'The Morrigan' certainly seemed to secure a good few new fans for the band as they got a great reception throughout the entirety of their set.


Second up were Australian beer drinkers and eye brow raisers Claim The Throne. From the kick off their set was excruciatingly brutal. The rhythm section were unbelievably heavy and from my space beside the stacks the volume and vibrations were pounding out so hale200ard I could feel it shaking me to the core and left me feeling like I wanted to cough up blood, always the sign of good metal! With quality tracks like 'Set Sail On Ale' and 'Rat Infested Hut' in their repertoire it was an interesting introduction to this Aussie five piece. The lightest song of their set the acoustic haunting drift of 'The Lake' revealed their folk leanings yet unfortunately no miniature Stonehenges appeared from above.


As it got closer to Ale' time it was standing room only in front of the stage with precious little room to swing a cat (o' nine tails). Tricorn hats, hooks and plastic cutlasses were filling any readily available space between patrons as pirate fancy dress went overboard. 'Shipwrecked' crashed out and the crowd surged into a turbulent sea of jostling bodies. I was pinned down, stage starboard. It soon became apparent that the sub zero temperature outside on the streets of chilly Brizzle had had its wintry progress stopped at the Fleece doors and the mercury level inside the venue rose rapidly to be in line with Caribbean climes. I realised that wearing a pirate shirt, hooded fleece and leather jacket was probably not the best decision I could have made regarding my nautical apparel for such a heated occasion.


With 'Shipwrecked' barely coming to a rest the temperature continued to soar sky high, specifically amongst the red blooded males as 'Wenches And Mead' replaced sex and drugs to be the ultimate companions for piratical rock 'n' roll. 'Leviathan' raged hard from the depths of the Alestorm back catalogue before a sorrow drowning round was poured up by 'Nancy The Tavern Wench'. Drinking songs are of course aplenty with Alestorm and 'The Sunk'n Norwegian' with its "ONE MORE DRINK" demand saw a frenzy of air fisting (insert Roger the Cabin boy joke here). Mosh pit turned jig pit for instrumental 'No Quarter', its 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' mid section seeing swords aloft like lighters. 'Captain Morgan's Revenge' saw buxom wenches rubbing bare shoulders with rugged sea dogs as jigging again replaced moshing in Blackbeard's hometown. Poor Captain Teach must have been rolling in his watery grave as the rum drenched son of Tredegar House lapped up all the glory. 


Many detractors have taken aim at the 'stormbringers lyrical output by saying that there can only be so much piratey subject matter left to pen but in response the Scots have proven that once you've scraped the barrel and punched through the bottom you'll find the depth of possibilities is endless. It's this inspired, and slightly weird, approach to songsmanship (is that a real word?) that gives us such gems as 'Back Through Time'. Time travelling pirates do battle alekeytar200with Vikings and the lyrics that go with said tune are as golden as stolen treasure, "You put your faith in Odin and Thor, we put ours in cannons and whores!" - I mean if that's not a motto to live your life by then what is? 'Midget Saw' was another off the wall offering all about "chopping up midgets." Drunken dancing to the tale of a dismembered dwarf, political correctness can walk the feckin' plank, eh?


Proving there's nothing gayer than a gay heavy metal band covering a gay pop song (their words not mine) Eurovision disco gem 'Wolves Of The Sea' got a keytar makeover and garnered one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night. Now, did I say something about rock bands covering pop songs in a recent live review from North Devon? Should I order some grog to wash down the humble pie? Nah! Jessie J sucks and Latvian Pirates rule, that's just how it is! No apologies from me.


Introducing the next song as being "...very long, very boring and about squid," 'Death Throes Of The Terrorsquid' played out like an epic mash up of 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Crowd surfers continually ran aground on the lights around the front of the stage and one unlucky punter who took a kick to the face got a free swig from Chris Bowes' rum bottle to make up for his discomfort. 'Keelhauled' dragged the last breaths out of the main set before the encore of a final piratey trilogy delivered a determined 'Set Sail And Conquer', a hectic 'Heavy Metal Pirates' and a final riotous round of 'Rum' which saw Cap'n Chris Bowes dive from the bow of the stage onto a sea of sweaty palms and disappear over the bobbing heads of Bristol towards the back of the Fleece and out of sight.