Pirate Metal was a rather bizarre little niche sub-sub-genre of an already somewhat niche sub-genre that emerged as melodic folky elements and influences began to creep into contemporary Metal music. The concept has been around for quite some time however, dating back to the 80s in fact, but coming into the early to mid 2000s the concept became reasonably popular again with a new spin on the idea. Bands taking on the “Pirate Metal” gimmick often did so with a fairly tongue in cheek attitude, but along with that came some genuinely fantastic and compelling music. So, I was rather interested when I saw that the Australian band, Lagerstein, were releasing an album this year entitled ’25/7.’
Upon listening, I found myself a little indecisive about how I really felt about the album. There are elements to it that I quite like, but there are some considerable flaws that draw it back overall. Performance wise, the instrumentation is fine. The guitars sound good and there isn’t anything that stands out as really flawed, and the same goes for the drums and bass. They do their parts and it ties together well enough. The vocal performance can be a little bit to get used to, but again, it ties into the rest of the band as it’s intended.
But that’s just it. It’s not “bad”, but kind of just bland. There are some catchy riffs here and there, and some nice hooks in a couple of choruses, but those enjoyable sections are overshadowed by the songwriting overall. Again, it’s not “bad,” but many of the songs are structured in a somewhat cookie-cutter fashion. A lot of the songs across the album seem repetitive, and don’t venture far outside of “verse, chorus” structures. Some of the melodic instrumental hooks for songs can suffer from this in places too, coming off as repetitive and almost forced, like it’s a placeholder effectively saying, “Insert whimsical accordion/fiddle/wacky instrument here because it’s a Pirate Metal song so it has to have it here.” It’s not that it doesn’t, but the melodic hooks just seem a bit uninspired in that regard.
But again, there are some cool ideas across the album. A particular favourite track of mine, Pina Colada Paradise, incorporates some really nice Caribbean reggae inspiration with the fun and flair I enjoy in the genre. The chorus interestingly features a duet accompanied by big, droning, distorted guitars. The chorus is catchy, the vocals throughout are well performed, and the overall feel of the song is actually very refreshing and even relaxing. Even the way the lyrics are written and performed adds to the song, even if it is still a bit tongue in cheek. The song ebbs and flows seamlessly, and it is the one song I keep coming back to.
And that’s what disappoints me most about this album: there is so much potential for some captivating and unique music, and the one song that drifts away stylistically from the rest of the album adequately demonstrates this. I would certainly ask for more work in the production area of things as the album sounds a little unpolished, but that isn’t the main issue. Something about this album overall sounds like it’s trying too hard to stick to being as piratey as possible, but in doing so it comes off more as style over substance.
Lagerstein’s ’25/7′ isn’t a bad album, but it isn’t that great either. I don’t dislike it, but I was left rather disappointed, as I feel there is some serious potential for some flat-out fantastic music to come out of this band. But by sticking too hard to the “Pirate Metal” template and playing too safe in the songwriting department, it sadly wasn’t any more than an “okay” release. I’m glad I was able to take away the one golden highlight of a song from the album, and I really hope to hear some great things coming from this band in the future, because I think they have it in them to do it.
SET SAIL TO PURCHASE LAGERSTEIN’S ’25/7′ HERE!