BLACK BONES, Pirates of the Coast (2009, Black Blood Brigade)
This cover is good enough to be the sign for the premier attraction in the finest of New Jersey’s boardwalk amusement parks. Taste the salty tang of adventure as you plunge more than two stories on the most piratical roller coaster you can experience for eight tickets in the peak season.
The entire BDS project is an exercise in sustained redundancy, but I nevertheless find it astonishing that I’m being called on to review another Italian pirate metal album. The last one, by Los Pirates, was actually quite good. Good enough that after reviewing it, I purchased it. I can’t say the same of Black Bones. Half the time, they’re only about as metal as a Misfits tribute band with a little more distortion on their guitars, but the other half, they’re at least as heavy as your average folk metal band. The music is rudimentary but I guess catchy enough, in the stupidest way possible. The songs are basically what you’d expect from pirate metal — singalong punk metal sea shanties — but the vocals are abysmal. Imagine Glenn Danzig doing an impression of an Italian Elvis impersonator. Go on, imagine it! But even if the singer had been awesome, this would still be a shitty album. It’s bad enough to sing about pirates; the moment you start sounding like you want people to know you’re singing about pirates, well, it’s all over.
— Friar Johnsen
BIGRIG, 10-4 Good Buddy (2009, demo)
This one pretty much speaks for itself, no? What could I possibly add that would make this funnier? Nothing!
BigRig is a side project from Admiral Nobeard and Commodore RedRum of the second best pirate metal band of all time, Swashbuckle. As you might expect, BigRig play trucker metal, even if no one else does. The sound is basically goofy deathrock, like midperiod Entombed but better and funny on purpose. They’re a joke band, yeah, but BigRig (like Swashbuckle) are damned good at what they do, and they play this ridiculous shit like they mean it. The unexpected melody in “The Long Haul” almost approaches earnestness, even. I’m sure these guys know it’s a galactic waste of time to put any effort into a throw-away novelty band like BigRig, but they just can’t help doing it right. You have to respect that.
— Friar Johnsen
SCOWL, Impetus Ex Caenum (2013, Speed Ritual)
Man, that’s a lot of bullets. But, if you look closely, you can see the outline of the lower jaw, and from its position, it doesn’t appeal that the teeth are parted. So, maybe these bullets were drawn in after the fact? The way they extend around the back, it’s as if the entire skull were opened up to accomodate them, when clearly that’s not the case. But, whatever, man: Scowl’s artist didn’t waste his time in school time learning anatomy or perspective from The Man. He draws what he knows, and what he knows is a big dumb skull in a silly hat with a mouthful of bullets. What’s not to like?
The music, that’s what, Impetus Ex Caenum is low-fi D-beat of the dullest sort. If it wasn’t recorded live in their rehearsal room, then they certainly spent too much at whatever studio they went to. Everything about this is a sloppy mess, but the drummer deserves a special mention for his ineptitude. I don’t know why anyone would go to the hassle and trouble of starting a band, just to make this. Scowl makes me long for the fabled creative genius of Skullfather.