Los Pirates - Heavy piracy 4/5
2. Coast of the Caribbean
3. Timeless dreams
4. The return of the Captain Woodhead
5. My friend, the slave
6. Pirate's Island
7. We declare
8. Another empty bottle
From the band name, title, and cover art, it should be quite obvious that this is another pirate-themed metal CD. If that's not enough, the lyrical content of songs like "Coast of the Caribbean", "The return of Captain Woodhead", and "Pirate's Island" should be a dead giveaway. But it would be inaccurate on several levels reflexively to dismiss Los Pirates as a bunch of johnny-come-lately bandwagon-jumpers. For starters, the band was formed back in 2001, long before Capt. Jack Sparrow, combined with the Alestorms and Skull-Branded Pirates of the world, had every kid with a guitar donning a tri-cornered hat and an eyepatch, and bellowing "yarrrrrrr, ye scurvy dogs". Another unexpected wrinkle is that Los Pirates hail from Bergamo, Italy. Who ever heard of an Italian pirate metal band? I never did, but I'd much rather hear an Italian band with a pirate motif than another faceless symphonic Labyrinth/Rhapsody of Fire clone.
What really makes Los Pirates interesting, however, is that they do not sound anything like Running Wild or today's well-known pirate metal crews. Aside from the piano-and-ocean-breeze intro and a few rollicking parts in "My friend, the slave," there's not much on 'Heavy piracy' that can reasonably be dubbed a sea shanty. Save for the repeated "hoy" gang shouts on "The return of Captain Woodhead", the CD is not laden with "yo-ho-hos" and so on. Instead, Los Pirates play an intriguing brand of traditional power metal, spiced with heavy influences from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a generous helping of early Sabbathian doom'n'gloom, and even occasional flights into 70s Italian progressive rock territory. Los Pirates sound something like putting Skanners, Trinakrius and Etrusgrave in a blender. While it may be difficult to imagine, the intertwining of these different sounds and styles actually works effectively. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the mixture sounds quite refreshing. Tempos and vibes ebb and flow quite naturally, and the CD never starts to feel boring or samey. It also helps that Los Pirates use almost no keyboards, and employ an organic, honest-sounding production job that is a welcome respite from the slicked-up glossy product that overpopulates the heavy metal genre today. Another appealing feature of 'Heavy piracy' is the outstanding lead vocals of Andy Brevi, whose strong, clear, confident voice is one of the best I've heard to emerge from the Italian metal scene in recent years, and could be favorably compared with the likes of Tiranti or Luppi, albeit with more grit than either of those.
Unfortunately, 'Heavy piracy' has a short 35-minute running time, with only 7 proper songs, so it ends far too soon. But the silver lining in this arrangement is that Los Pirates have not padded the tracklist with subpar songs, and none of the tunes feel like filler. In terms of highlights, proper opener "Coast of the Caribbean" slays me every time with the speedy part in the middle and a chorus forged in pure gold. "We Declare" is the most melodic, happy power metallish song on tap, and it's a good one. "Pirates Island" feels like uptempo 70s Black Sabbath, along the lines of something like "Paranoid". "My friend the slave" is the rollicking cut that actually feels like a song about pirates. And "Another empty bottle" closes things out on a high note with another splendid chorus and a nice combination of doomy power riffing and NWOBHM melodic sensibility.
Far from being unimaginative trend-hoppers, Los Pirates have hit upon a creative blend of musical styles, ranging from doom to 70s prog, all housed within a distinctly old-school traditional metal framework. They've got a great singer and a knack for writing memorable songs. Whatever your feeling may be about buccaneer-themed metal bands, 'Heavy piracy' is a shot across the bow to all of those negative stereotypes. With a little more time for these disparate flavors to coalesce, and perhaps some label support to prevent the band from having to wield the laboring oar themselves (as was the case here), Los Pirates' next CD could be a treasure, indeed.
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