A couple of weeks ago, I posted the released video of "Cruise Ship Terror" from the band Swashbuckle, and proclaimed it one of my favorite videos in the past couple years. So, when their album "Back to the Noose" began streaming online, I had to get a listen of what would no doubt be an interesting experience.
I was absolutely right; "Back to the Noose" is a fun, side-saddled romp of consistent if unimaginative thrash metal with heavy old-school punk influences. Whether the album is...what's the word...good, is another argument altogether.
Swashbuckle is a three piece outfit from New Jersey who dresses up as pirates and sings about being pirates. It's all really very straightforward, single-minded stuff. Musically, there's a lot of punk influence here, beginning with the call-and-response choruses, group backing vocals, and Misfits-length songs. That band sacrifices musical acuity for the sake of sheer tempo; it never slows down, the songs only display minor variation from one to the next, and the central theme of the album is the only theme: "we are pirates."
From that springboard, Swashbuckle manages to poke fun at all of the little high societal foibles that they harbor a juvenile disdain for. No one and nothing is safe from their scorn, as they mock everything from the wealthy's alleged lack of common sense, to the musical stylings of Justin Timberlake. The song "Scurvy Back" is just one of a small handful of musical inside jokes and parodies that makes Swashbuckle enjoyable while falling well short of insightful. It is in this regard that the band is in the mold of GWAR or Stormtroopers of Death, but perhaps less scathing and less defined, if that's even possible.
In between all the factors that remind me at different points of Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, the Ramones, the Misfits and a lot of other bands better than Swashbuckle, the would-be pirates can be surprisingly melodic and musically appreciable. Not to say that they engage in complex riffs or anything more than baseline punk/thrash, but in songs like "Peg Leg Stomp," "Rounds of Rum" or even "Scurvy Back," the band can assemble a song that appeals to the head-banging sense of all punk/metal fans.
Ignore the array of filler pieces, and you're left with an album that aims to give you more songs for your money. Trouble is, if you don't like one of them, you likely won't like any of them.
"Back to the Noose" isn't exactly a must-listen, but it's a fun piece of old school relentless punk charm like you just don't see much these days. I'm not sure what a follow-up album would sound like, and I don't know what kind of longevity the band can expect, but Swashbuckle is a pleasant distraction that made me smile here and there.