The Definitive Oral History of Pirate Metal
The golden age of piracy ended 400 years ago, when the last great buccaneers were chased out of the New World. But the golden age of pirate metal is happening right now.
Part musical theater, part headbanging riffage, pirate metal (or piratecore) is a healthy subgenre with dozens of bands sailing under its flag. Running Wild was one of the first, going full pirate with their 1987 album Under Jolly Roger. The sound now ranges from sea shanties played on distorted guitars to full-on death metal riffs with pirate tales of murder and mayhem screamed over them. No two bands terrorize their crowds exactly the same way.
“There’s definitely a small scene, but it’s not like we’re all exchanging notes on pirate things or discussing accordion melodies,” says Christopher Bowes, the lead singer of Alestorm, maybe one of the best-known groups in the budding subgenre. “It’s rowdy, it’s a party. That’s the main thing.”