Tag Archives: Barbar’O’Rhum

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)

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