Album Review – Calarook / Surrender Or Die (2020)

On a quest for booze we go together with those unstoppable Swiss pirates and their debut full-length album.

On a quest for booze we go! That’s what frontman Philipp Wyssen, guitarist Nico Wiget, bassist Flavio Pompeo, drummer Yves Locher and violinist Lukas Mischler, collectively known as the unrelenting Winterthur, Switzerland-based Pirate Metal crew Calarook, promise to deliver in their debut full-length album Surrender Or Die, mixing rabid Melodic Death Metal with Folk Metal parts and sometimes a pinch of wonderful nonsense, therefore inviting us all to celebrate, mosh and headbang like there’s no tomorrow. Calarook have been on a roll since the band’s inception in 2014 (under the name Calico), firing an endlessly captivating seafaring sound that leaves no one standing still or even sober, starting with their 2017 EP Calico, but it’s now with Surrender Or Die that the quintet is ready to take us all on a full-bodied adventure across the seven seas, offering our avid ears over 69 minutes of first-class metal music while at the same time being always ready for more booze, pillaging and partying in the name of heavy music.

The tolling bells in the epic intro 47°30’18”N 8°51’52”E warn us all their festivities are about to start in A Cursed Ship’s Tale, sounding furious and imposing thanks to the crushing beats by Yves and the guttural roars by Philipp, while Lukas brings his share of lunacy with his whimsical violin, flowing smoothly until its climatic finale. They offer more of their visceral fusion of Melodic Death Metal with classic Death Metal and pirate music in Quest For Booze, an ode to all alcoholic beverages where Nico is unstoppable with his riffage accompanied by the rumbling bass by Flavio and the once again magical violin by Lukas, whereas it’s time to break your necks headbanging to the sound of Into The Storm, with Yves pounding his drums like a cannon from a pirate ship while Philipp continues to blast his inebriate, unfriendly growls. In the title-track Surrender Or Die the “captain” vociferates the song’s sailing lyrics rabidly (“We change the course / To pursue the prey / The distance gets smaller / The target turns away / But we can catch up / Prepared to fight / The cannons are loaded / Everyone is quiet”) while his bandmates generate a strong ambience with their respective instruments, inspiring us all to fight side by side with the band; and Flavio and his metallic bass ignite the rhythmic, dancing tune curiously titled Invisible Pineapples, showcasing an amazing job done by Nico with his slashing riffs. Put differently, simply  grab your beer and your sword and get ready to rock together with those metal pirates.

And those buccaneers keep delivering heaviness, speed and harmony in the excellent Kraken’s Chest, the epitome of Pirate Metal overflowing electricity and fury, also presenting an interesting paradox between Lukas’ classy violin and Yves’ thunderous beats, before it’s time to slam into the circle pit to the fun Paul The Parrot. Let’s all be honest, no one can stand still to a metal song about a parrot, with Nico and Yves making sure the rhythm remains as vibrant as possible in a great display of modern-day Melodic Death Metal, while Jack Rackham is another song exhibiting a pleasant speed and pace, with the violin by Lukas adding tons of finesse to the overall result while his bandmates continue to invite us all to prance around the fire pit. Kicking Flamingos is what I call a weird name for a song, but they’re pirates which means all makes sense; however, musically speaking it’s not on par with the rest of the album, sounding a bit generic despite Flavio’s great performance on bass. Fortunately, Calarook get back on track with their trademark Pirate Metal in Davy Jones’ Locker, a lot more introspective than its predecessors while Nico dictates the pace with his classic riffs, accompanied by Philipp’s deep growling.

In Tentacle Explosion we have less than three minutes of hammering Melodic Death Metal infused with the stylish violin by Lukas, resulting in a great option for their live performances which will certainly inspire us all to raise our horns and grab a pint in the name of metal music; and their loyalty to drinking and piracy goes on in Loyal To None But Rum, where all Calarook are telling us is to simply get drunk and slam into the circle pit to the sound of their thrilling music. Then venturing through more traditional lands, they fire their most Heavy Metal of all songs, The Legend Of Liquor Island, bringing forward a galloping rhythm led by Yves and his old school beats while Philipp keeps roaring and growling like a true pirate, whereas in The Feast Of Emerald Meadows the band fills our ears with a more vicious and violent sonority while Nico’s riffs walk hand in hand with Lukas’ violin. Hence, it will certainly urge you to sing its chorus along with Calarook while crushing your skull into the mosh pit once again, and closing this 69-minute pirate quest the band fires the classic The Undying Sailor, where despite the great job done by Yves and Lukas with their beats and violin, the final result is a bit messy, not to mention the song goes on for way too long.

If you’re ready to set sail together with the drunk and talented Swiss pirates of Calarook and support them in their epic adventures, you can follow the band on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel for their fun and fresh official videos, stream more of their rebellious music on Spotify, and obviously purchase a copy of Surrender Or Die from the band’s own webstore (and soon enough from several other locations). In a world where people have the attention span of a goldfish, we must admit releasing a 69-minute album is a beyond bold move by Calarook, but yet again, as already mentioned they are not just musicians, but metal pirates, and as the great privateers they are they know exactly what they are doing by releasing such imposing and epic album. Or do you think only 20 or 30 minutes of music would be enough for all the action you can have together with Calarook on board of their ship in their quest for metal, rum, flamingos, parrots and pineapples?

Best moments of the album: Quest For Booze, Invisible Pineapples, Kraken’s Chest and The Feast Of Emerald Meadows.

Worst moments of the album: Kicking Flamingos and The Undying Sailor.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. 47°30’18”N 8°51’52”E 2:02
2. A Cursed Ship’s Tale 4:33
3. Quest For Booze 5:36
4. Into The Storm 7:05
5. Surrender Or Die 4:27
6. Invisible Pineapples 5:09
7. Kraken’s Chest 5:46
8. Paul The Parrot 3:36
9. Jack Rackham 3:22
10. Kicking Flamingos 3:33
11. Davy Jones’ Locker 3:47
12. Tentacle Explosion 2:34
13. Loyal To None But Rum 4:38
14. The Legend Of Liquor Island 3:03
15. The Feast Of Emerald Meadows 4:34
16. The Undying Sailor 5:37

Band members
Philipp Wyssen – vocals
Nico Wiget – guitar
Flavio Pompeo – bass
Yves Locher – drums
Lukas Mischler – violin

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