Using pirates as a central theme for your band in metal is nothing new. Of course, Running Wild was undoubtedly the most important band for connecting pirates and metal, but it seems like ever since Alestorm popped up, bands are taking this to a new extreme. This sets the stage for Skull & Bones from Argentina. These guys play a style of metal that is somewhat of a cross between the two aforementioned bands; they’ve got the riffs and attitude of Running Wild, but combine it with the folky Pirates of the Caribbean-soundtrack sounds of Alestorm. “The Cursed Island” is the Skull & Bones’ debut, and it shows not only plenty of potential, but also a lot of great execution.
The album’s intro does a fantastic job of setting the mood for this upon which you’re about to embark. In fact, this album has a number of interludes that all work to enhance the album’s atmosphere. Often times, excessive breaks in the music can get annoying, but Skull & Bones keeps them short and doesn’t have any poor narration to ruin them. For this reason, when the galloping thunder of “The Chest of Billy Bones” kicks in, it’s easy to get into the music. One thing the band does incredibly well is include plenty of hooks in the music, and this first longer track is the perfect example. Both its prechorus and chorus show a penchant for melody and are both incredibly catchy. If you take the band too seriously, the shouts of “yo-ho-ho” might get on your nerves, but it’s hard to deny the quality of the riffs the band delivers.
The best song on this album is “Long John Silver”. Again, it’s all about the riffs. If the folky keyboard melodies are what you hate about a band like Alestorm, Skull & Bones does everything they can to rectify it. There are definitely keyboards for atmospheric purposes, but you won’t hear any keyboard breakdowns or solos. The folky parts that the band does take from Alestorm are largely limited to the interludes. Skull & Bones also shows homage to Running Wild with riffs like the one that opens “Ready For Quest”, which is pure tremolo-picking bliss. The next full track, “Rum For The Crew” continues this trend.
If there is one potential criticism of this album it would be the vocals. For me, they work incredibly well. Skull & Bones’ singer is by no means perfect. You can tell that he doesn’t always hit every note perfectly, but he has enough conviction to make it work. He also doesn’t sound like Rock ‘n Rolf, which is really nice because it differentiates the two bands. With that said, Skull & Bones definitely leans a little more towards the serious approach taken by Running Wild than the more fun approach of Alestorm. In either case, Skull & Bones is incredibly talented and have put out a great record. If the imagery turns you off, take a step back from the seriousness of metal for a second and put this record on; let the riffs speak for themselves.
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"The Chest of Billy Bones"
"Long John Silver"
"Powder & Guns"
4.3/5 or 86%.
Written by Scott