Swashbuckle - Crewed by the Damned - 2006 - Bald Freak Music
1. Under the Black Flag 2. Welcome Aboard 3. Drink Up 4. Set Sail 5. Walk the Plank 6. What a Ship Is 7. Dead Men Tell No Lies 8. The Wooden World 9. X Marks the Spot 10. Rum Runners 11. Upon the Spanish Main 12. The Bazaar 13. Jolly Roger 14. Paradise Defined 15. Crewed by the Damned 16. A Fool's Errand 17. Pirate Jargon 18. Nautical Nonsense
New Jersey-based pirate thrashers Swashbuckle have, in the last year or so, boarded and commandeered the local music scene, proving to be the most steadfast and stalwart metal band upon the Mid-Atlantic Main. After signing to Bald Freak music in the summer of 2006 and releasing their debut full-length “Crewed by the Damned” the following autumn, it seems like there is nothing that will stop Swashbuckle’s quest for plunder and glory. Many bands that utilize gimmicks or costumes often do not have the material to back up their image, and come across as, well, drivelswiggers. Aside from putting forth an image that seems natural and comfortable instead of fake and forced, Swashbuckle have the musical talent and ability to produce music of the highest quality, setting themselves apart from the unworthy. In true piratical fashion, “Crewed by the Damned” launches Swashbuckle’s aural pillaging career with quite a loud splash.
Although “Crewed by the Damned” doesn’t have a single bad track, several of them stand out as especially well done. “Walk the Plank” is a short, fast, and intense song filled with unrelenting shrieks courtesy of bassist/vocalist Admiral Nobeard as well as the fine riff work of Commodore Redrum and Rowin’ Joe Po. During the chorus, Swashbuckle go into bass-overdrive, as Nobeard seems to rape his instrument with unrelenting force while drummer Captain Crashride goes crazy with his double bass pedal. The song’s conclusion features a gang-vocal chant of “HIGH FIVES! PLANK DIVES!” that would both excite and inspire murderous pirate crews and instill fear into the minds of all who would dare to cross them. If you listen closely to the album’s title track, “Crewed by the Damned,” you can hear the unfortunate demise of Rowin’ Joe Po, as he falls overboard and apparently drowns. There is also a pretty cool lead guitar melody leading into the track, which you don’t see on every Swashbuckle track, as they’re often very rhythm-dominated. The album’s real highlight, however, is the song “Drink Up,” which has in a sense become Swashbuckle’s trademark anthem. From the endearing lead melody that surpasses even the one found in “Crewed by the Damned” in terms of excellence to the catchy, pirate-to-the-core chorus line, “Drink Up” is one hell of a song. If Swashbuckle ever hit it really big, this song will play a huge part in their ascent to glory.
Aside from all of the thrashing tunes on “Crewed by the Damned,” Swashbuckle have also inserted many acoustic ditties interspersed throughout the track listing. Among these pieces, the three highlights are clearly the same three acoustic songs that appeared on Swashbuckle’s 2005 demo – “Set Sail,” “What a Ship Is,” and “Paradise Defined.” Each if these songs contain excellent acoustic guitar work, keyboards that provide both melody and atmosphere, and creative percussion on hand drums, tambourines, and the like. All of these acoustic songs sound like real, genuine shanties from a few centuries ago when pirates truly did rule the waters of the Caribbean. Swashbuckle’s ability to reproduce this genuine authenticity, on a primarily metal album, no less, is highly commendable. The foursome would do just as well playing acoustic gigs at Renaissance fairs and the like, although it’s doubtful if that prospect would appeal to their wild pirate nature.
With just one release on a label under their belts, it is clear that Swashbuckle have the ability to become one of America’s next big metal bands. They’ve seamlessly tapped into the thrash metal keg and combined it with the likes of pure piratical power. Although their pirate image should appeal to metal and nautical enthusiasts alike, the strength of their material alone is enough to vault them to nation and perhaps even worldwide notoriety. “Crewed by the Damned” comes highly recommended to fans of thrash, pirates, or both. And if you’re not already a pirate enthusiast, one listen to “Drink Up” may very well change that. For Swashbuckle, it seems the voyage to ravaging every port upon the Spanish Main has only just begun.
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