Privateer (The) - Facing the tempest 3/5

Reviewed: 7-1-12


1. Awakening
2. Dawn of a sailsman
3. Last journey
4. Descent to hades
5. Blackbeard
6. Port Corrad
7. Basilisk
8. Stormlashed

Oh, I can hear what you’re thinking. “Who needs an Alestorm clone? As if the real one isn’t bad enough! Ha ha! Amirite? Guys?” And you up the back, smugly shrugging your shoulders and smirking “they’re all just ripping off Running Wild anyway...” Well, sorry, no fun for you lads today.

Despite the daffy costumes, The Privateer for the most part sound nothing like either of the 2 most obvious bands you might think of (nothing like Rock ‘n’ Rolf’s troupe at all, actually), with their debut ‘Facing the tempest’ actually taking the power/folk metal thing in a mostly rather straight-faced direction.

The one band that came to mind during the initial phase of gauging exactly what was coming out of the speakers is actually Stormlord, or at least the material from their ‘Mare nostrum’ CD. ‘Facing the tempest’ isn’t near as extreme or indeed symphonic, nor does it carry that distinct Mediterranean vibe that the Italians conjured up back in 2008, but it does convey a similar sense of mournful maritime longing.

This is mostly achieved through the interplay of the violin and lead guitar, which on the CD’s strongest moments synchronise beautifully to paint pictures of ships rocking on endless, empty oceans. Pablo Heist’s vocals are at their best on these sorrowful sojourns, his operatic wailing (often backed by Miri Weinzierl, pulling double duty with the violin) a perfect match for the wistful music.

There is a bit more to his game though than just this though, as he also offers some yelping harsh vocals that, while not exactly stellar, offer a reasonable counterpoint to his emotional wailing that would probably become a little predictable if left unchallenged. The interchanging harsh and clean vocals and the bleak atmosphere also call to mind the later material of their compatriots in Wolfchant to some degree, though with the folk stylings naturally geared more towards a seafaring ambience.

While I admittedly have something a bug up my rear end about folk metal bands that overuse a single traditional instrument, The Privateer give a great deal more care and attention to how they use the violin. Subtle textures are added to the songs where it would be more conventional to use keyboards, giving the songs some added flavour while at the same time sparing the listener from a constant distracting scraping in the background.

It’s a bit of an oddity then that when another folk instrument shows up in the form of the accordion that things go a somewhat awry. “Port Corrad” is the low point in the middle section of the CD which sees things move into a more jovial direction that does in fact bring them a little closer to the nudge-nudge wink-wink Alestorm side of things, and it hits the skids a little as result. The silly, jaunty rhythms and goofy gang vocals just don’t sit well next to the more sombre music that makes up the rest of the CD and although things get back on track by the conclusion it does make for a maddeningly inconsistent debut, both in terms of tone and quality.

Recorded and initially released independently before a quick reissue through Trollzorn Records, ‘Facing the tempest’ doesn’t exactly boast gleaming production values, but the songs that hit do so with quite a bit of emotional force. It’s just a shame that The Privateer couldn’t keep the level of quality up throughout their debut, but there is still a decent amount of enjoyment to be gleaned from it.




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