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Calico Jack

Isla De La Muerte

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit that this was my first foray into Pirate metal. So, I can't tell you how these guys compare to other bands within the subgenre. What I can say is that I found the mix of pirate music, extreme metal and more to be inventive, creative and interesting from start to finish. I'm not even a big fan of extreme metal vocals, but this disc worked really well for me. Everything here is good, but some songs really stand out. I look forward to hearing more from this Italian outfit.

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Track by Track Review
Broadside Attack
Some scene things are on display at the start of this, just sounds like perhaps something from a movie. Then a violin rises up to create old time music. The metal rises up to meet and we're off. That violin continues to solo over the top as the metal sounds pound forward. Everyone drops away for a time to let the violin carry it. When the metal screams back in there is a blast of death metal vocals. They keep the old-time sounds in place as they turn it toward furious metal for the entrance of the actual, extreme vocals. This is a real powerhouse and a great opener. There are some killer twists and turns here, and this has some smoking hot guitar soloing.
Isla de la Muerte
This pounds in fierce, but also dramatic and intriguing. This more straight-ahead metal. The vocals are somewhat extreme, but not to the same level as on the opener. This has some killer blasts of guitar. There are some hints of symphonic metal at a couple points via some over layers of sound. The old-time music elements join late in an instrumental movement. Then they drop back to an intricate acoustic guitar break that brings more traditional music. That get a blast of metal as a punctuation point in the middle of its run. After that section they fire out into a full on metal stomping with some pirate music over the top. Death metal growls are heard on that portion of the track. This just keeps evolving and growing. At over ten-and-a-half minutes, this is epic in both scope and scale, and it has plenty of both metal and pirate music concepts at play.
Bad Fortune
A killer metal riff gets us going here. There is some amazing guitar soloing on this screamer. We also get some cool violin soloing. The whole tune does a great job of merging the metal and pirate sounds, but it does lean heavier on the metal end of that equation.
Intricate Spanish starts this song. They build on that Latin vibe as they continue, with other instruments added to the mix. It shifts to metal as it approaches the one-minute mark. It's fierce once it does. Yet there are still pirate angles to the music. It drops for a bass solo from there. Then extreme metal vocals and violin join in an unusual arrangement. The track builds outward gradually with the metal concept coming back in little by little. This is complex and unusual. It's also one of my favorites here.
Three Cheers to the Shanty Man
I really love the pirate music metal hybrid on this stomper. This is another highlight of the disc. This has both violin and guitar soloing that are great. The song is just so much fun.
Another energetic hybrid piece, this is also screaming hot and packed full of good times. I'd consider this another highlight of the set. It doesn't try as hard as some of the rest. It just seems to sit back and enjoy the crazy mix of sounds on display.
Queen Anne's Revenge
Coming in with more of an epic, symphonic metal vibe, this is powerful and more extreme. It's driving and fierce. There are quite a few changes along the road here. This does have some of that pirate thing on display still, but it definitely leans much harder on the metal end of things. I love the section where it drops to just the rhythm section to back the vocals.
Haul Away Joe
Seriously fierce this is another powerhouse. It is another that leans more toward the metal side of things. It's extreme, raw and powerful. It does still have enough of that old-world music to keep it labeled as "pirate metal."
At almost 16-minutes of music, this is the real epic here. Dramatic classical sounds bring this in. This thing continues to evolve and grow with the full focus on the world music end of the spectrum. Some rocking elements get added to the mix, making this almost a prog rock kind of thing, after the three-minute mark. Then it get some metal in the mix after that, but they return to the earlier things after just a short time. The full-metal treatment, complete with death growls hits around the four-minute mark. This continues to grow from there as both metal and pirate music are on the menu. A real dynamic powerhouse this is one of the most intriguing and powerful things here. This gets so many twists and variants with different angles of the music taking command at different points. There is a dramatic percussive break later that eventually builds out into furious speed metal. I love when it shifts toward less extreme metal with the violin over the top later. This makes such an effective closer.

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