Category Archives: Pirate Punk

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SCARLET- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ (2017)

It’s been five minutes so must be time for another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk release from another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk band!

2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band with a seemingly never ending succession of celtic-punk releases throughout the year that filled the end of year Best Of polls for not just ourselves but for all the other celtic-punk media. Well last year was a bit on the quiet side but the Hungarians are back in 2017 with a bang and already this year we have had Hungarian Celtic-Punk week when we reviewed three releases by bands old and new to the scene in Firkin, Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills plus as well as finding space for the excellent Jolly Jackers album and a new Paddy And The Rats release due any day soon its shaping up to be a repeat of two years back. The Scarlet’s singer/songwriter Dániel also plays in The O’Neills and while they are a much more traditional Irish folk band it seems he has chosen The Scarlet to take out his aggression on and their music has a much harder edge to it than previously. Which brings us to this release which came out in March (when else!) and is the debut long player from Budapest based band The Scarlet. They have previously released a Demo (available for free download from here) in late 2012 and in January, 2015 they released their first official record in Midnight Avenue. That was six tracks and twenty minutes of, mostly Dropkick Murphys style, quality celtic-punk that introduced them both to the celtic-punk scene and the world (here). A combination of pirate ‘Yo-Ho’s’ and metal guitar riffs accompanying the celtic instruments it left us itching to hear more and we were jumping for joy on the news that an album was coming out.

Now as is the case with music genre’s many overlap and while to the casual listener it may all sound the same but to those that like to label things this is probably more towards the pirate punk end of celtic-punk and maybe even celtic-metal as well.

The album kicks off with ‘Heroes of Our Future’ and even though it’s the shortest song on the album it’s still one of the high points. The Hungarians love the flute and The Scarlet are no different with Júlia’s flute competing with fiddle and metally punk electric guitar riffs. Dániel’s vocals as on that earlier EP are clear and even with his slight accent the English lyrics are easy to understand though sung in a more rock style than before.

The music has a urgent feel to it and ‘The Darker Shade of Red’ doesn’t let the pace slip while the sea theme continues with ‘We Plunder’. The heavy guitar and thundering bass, which sounds particularly good, give the song a hard feel but all the time the flute and fiddle keep it celtic. ‘Monday Morning’ is another album standout and one of the more ‘trad’ celtic-punk moments on the album. Gang vocals on the track are a nice touch and keep it interesting. We are halfway through Hardfolk Shanties and ‘Son of a Pirate’ keeps the pace up. I am a new convert to the use of flute in celtic-punk. I was never one for it but on seeing the mighty Firkin here in London on NYE 2015 I have to say I was totally won over. The Scarlet and Firkin share a lot of similarities except in sound and once again it’s pleasing that bands have managed to tread separate paths in a, sometimes, one dimensional scene.

Saying that if there was one song on the album that has a Firkin shadow looming over it then it is ‘Take the Wheel’. In a album of high points it’s not hard hard to pick out songs worthy of attention and ‘Heading to South’ is one. Great fiddle work and chugging guitar and a real catchy tune too. We coming up to the end of the album and ‘Battlefield Requiem’ keeps up the good work and another mention here for Dániel’s tortured vocals which fit perfectly with the sound the band are producing. ‘Runaway’ has a punk feel to it with that thundering bass back again and finally Hardfolk Shanties comes to an end with ‘Long Live the Dead’. The song begins folky acoustic style before moving into celtic-punk territory. Another class song and that The Scarlet can pack so much into their songs when the longest here is only just over three minutes long is remarkable.

So the album is over and you get ten songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at literally just over half an hour long. If you like your celtic-punk a bit different then Hardfolk Shanties will be right up your street. More punk than most and with metal influences that keep it on the harder side side of things but thanks to the addictive flute and fiddle here it is firmly within the celtic-punk scene. Fiddler Dominika can be thanked for the superb pirate themed album artwork and the album was mixed by Zoltán Cs.Szabó, of the Hungarian garage rock band The Trousers, who has done a grand job and got the maximum out of The Scarlet. A great album and as already stated it sits proudly on the harder edged side of things but it is nevertheless still a fine concoction of both old time folk and more modern punk and metal. Heartily recommended ship mates!

(you can hear Hardfolk Shanties by pressing play on the Soundcloud player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BARBAR’O’RHUM- ‘Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum’ (2016)

Celtic dancing music with the rhythm of whistles and pipes, the power of electric guitar, bass guitar and drums… and never without a bottle of rum!
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Every time (and i mean EVERY single cotton-picking time) I see the town Toulouse mentioned I instantly start singing the Johnny Thunders penned punk rock classic ‘Born To Lose’ in my head. So its been quite hard to stay focused during this review of the debut album from the Toulouse born pirate / celtic-punkers Barbar’O’Rhum.
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The idea for the band started in 2008 with Mathieu who began writing songs he hoped one day to get a band together to perform but it wasnt until 2013 that things began to move and within a short while the first incarnation of Barbar’O’Rhum was born. A couple of line-up changes later and with a strong and dedicated line-up they have managed to find time between playing every festival in France to record Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum (All Roads Lead To Rum) their debut album which was released on July 1st this year.
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Barbar’O’Rhum from left to right: Corentin (aka Roman Ranger)- electric guitar, backing vocals * Richard (aka Rick O’Shay)- drums, backing vocals * Mathieu (aka Capitaine Barbedrut)- lead vocals, tin whistle, Irish bouzouki, gaita * Colin (aka Ange Oliver) : keyboards, backing vocals. -Jérémy (aka Edward Kidd) : bass guitar, backing vocals

Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum begins with ‘Bienvenue à B’O’R’ and the sound of waves crashing into rocks and slow military style drumming drum up an evocative scene in your head while accordion and bagpipes join in and soon as you get use to that ‘Coeur de l’Océan’ blasts out and is much more your typical celtic ‘punk’ fare.

I say that as it has some massive metal overtones too but without being particularly metal sounding. Like a laid back and more tuneful Alestorm. All the songs here are sung in French and Mathieu has a wonderfully strong voice that is an absolute perfect fit for this music. It doesn’t bother us one bit and if anything prefer a band to sing in their native tongue. After all what would be the point in promoting the celtic languages and then expect everyone else to sing in English! Next up is ‘La République Pirate’ and for me the album highlight. Not one of Barbar’O’Rhum’s fastest songs but the word catchy does not do it justice one bit.

The song tells the interesting tale of the Pirate Republic established at Nassau in the Bahama from 1703 to 1718. With no governor installed the sparsely settled Bahamas become a pirate haven. It was claimed there were over 1,000 pirates in Nassau and that they easily outnumbered inhabitants of the town. The pirates proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as ‘governors’. Maany famous pirates used Nassau as their base such as Charles Vane, Thomas Barrow, Benjamin Hornigold, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and the infamous Edward Teach, known as ‘Blackbeard’. The republic was smashed by 1720 and the pirates returned to plunder the sea. ‘Notre Terre’ is another standout track that again begins with waves and the lonesome sound of a tin whistle that soon enough explodes with rapid and excellent drumming into some kind of celtic-folk-metal masterpiece. This must surely be the one that gets the audience out of their chairs at live gigs I would say. Steel drum kicks off ‘Fille de Joie, Gourgandine’ and the list of instruments here just grows and grows. Keyboards, Fiddle, Electric, Bass, Tin whistle, Irish Bouzouki, Galician Bagpipe and finally drums. Don’t think I have missed anything. ‘Le Trésor Maudit de Barbe-Noire’ and ‘La Danse du Gibet continue in much the same vein with the pirate theme to the fore and the acoustic instruments put to the back and the rockier sound coming out. Next up is ‘La Véritable Histoire du Capitaine Crochet’ and one thing about Barbar’O’Rhum I can tell from listening to them is the amount of lyrics in each song. Obviously these Bhoys have a story to tell that unfortunately I cannot understand. I can hazard a guess that its tales of the sea and of pirates and death and debauchery all presented with crystal clear vocals and bloomin’ brilliant music.

We are nearing the end of our voyage with Barbar’O’Rhum and amazingly the last three songs of the album clock in at over just under twenty minutes but the energy doesn’t let up for a minute. ‘Le Hollandais Volant’ and ‘Dernière Bataille’ steer clear of any prog-rock pretensions while the album’s biggest epic song is saved to close Toutes les Routes Mènent au Rhum and ‘La Gigue du Pêcheur Pendu’ is well worthy of the word epic. Eleven songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at a very healthy fifty-nine minutes which gives the songs plenty of time to develop and they also manage that without them becoming overblown like plenty of folk-metal bands seem to do all too easily. Barbar’O’Rhum draw their inspiration from the ocean and their songs are peppered with the sounds of ancient, and not so ancient, sea shanties and the traditional folk music of the Celtic nations. A quick look at the videos may mark them down as just a happy-go-lucky band dressing up as pirates and though I am sure they are enjoying themselves its also clear, even to myself who cannot iunderstand a word of what they are saying, that they are telling a story of days gone by while wrapping it all up in a modern style they themselves have labelled ‘Rock and Rhum!’ Long may they sail and i hope one day they set sail for London too.

(Listen to the whole of the album below on the Soundcloud player)

Barbar1Buy The Album
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