Tales of the Seven Seas

Crusade of Bards

Most US-based Metal fans have had the experience of seeing bands that are huge in […]
March 20, 2022
Crusade of Bards - Tales of the Seven Seas album cover

Most US-based Metal fans have had the experience of seeing bands that are huge in other parts of the world play in very small venues in the US. Great for the fans, but probably a bummer for the bands. I mean, switching from stadium to bar has to be a tough adjustment. So anyway, a hundred years ago (or 2012 to be exact), I had the pleasure of seeing ALESTROM open for EPICA at the Scout Bar in Houston, Texas. It was one of those chocolate meets peanut butter scenarios, but instead of Reese's it was the birth of Symphonic Pirate Metal. (And at this very moment, thousands of Metal fans across the world die from their heads exploding). Okay, yes, I know that's not how nor when nor where Symphonic Pirate Metal was born but, shit, it was the place I was at when I saw it happen in real life right in front of me . . . and I'm writing this review. So, yeah. 2012. The Scout Bar. A Pirate Metal band opening for a Symphonic Metal band . . . and then three years later CRUSADE OF BARDS was formed in Madrid, Spain.

Their first album, "Tales of Bards and Beasts," was released in the way back of 2019. Three years later-February 18, 2022-they released their second full-length album, "Tales of the Seven Seas." While "Tales of Bards and Beasts" centered on 'myths and legends,' "Tales of the Seven Seas" focuses on-wait for it-stories about the seven seas. No, but really, we're talking actual historical stories divvied up at two tracks for each 'sea.' So, 14 tracks at close to a full hour. That's commitment. And if you are wondering if something so calculated can also be good, the answer is yes. This an album of epic proportions filled with epic content performed with an overall ethos of Symphonic epic-ness. Classic Maritime Symphonic metal at its best.

For our history buffs-and we know in the Metal world we have loads of history fans-each story has a fascinating origin which I am not going to recap here because this isn't that type of review. And, besides, the internet exists. Just go look for yourself, but I promise you these are intriguing stories. I should also say the songs aren't just about history-there is some social commentary running throughout-but you can hardly have one without the other.

While the lyrics and the stories they convey are intriguing, the more compelling aspect is how they are told. The symphonic instrumentation is down to the genius Paolo "The Bard" Andreotti (keyboards, vocals) who is also the lyricist. Clearly this man has an ear for multi-layered arrangements and harmony. And if you're afraid too much synth may lend too much buoyant atmosphere, the guitar work of Adrián "The Time Knitter" Carrero lends plenty of heavy riffage and stunning solos to anchor the album-not to mention the rhythm section of Marc Brode (bass) and You (drums) who together can soothe the seas just as proficiently as stirring up maelstroms.

With all that said, when it comes down to Symphonic Metal, the magic, of course, is in the vocals. You just can't have great Symphonic Metal without superlative vocals. And here CRUSADE OF BARDS delivers in spades with a dual lineup of Captain Eleanor Tenebre and Eduardo Guilló, not to mention guest vocalists: Fabio Lione (ETERNAL IDOL, ANGRA) and Lady Ani (LAST DAYS OF EDEN).

When it comes down to intent, I think we should look to the band to tell us in their own words what they were trying to achieve. The band explains: "With this album, we want to make a statement, we want the fans to really understand who CRUSADE OF BARDS is both musically and visually. We want them to open their minds, join us on our journeys through space and time, discover new stories and understand that we, as human beings, have changed very little. Our sins, our mistakes, our victories, and our feelings are not new or undiscovered. They are just there, floating on the ocean, waiting for us to collect them."

Apart from maritime motifs and some field recordings to set atmosphere, there isn't a lot of pirate going on with CRUSADE OF BARDS . . . and that is just fine. For me, pirate tunage can get a little too sing-songy with all the shanty melodies and such. "Tales of the Seven Seas" might center on the seas but it's mostly Symphonic (okay, except "Dunkirk Pirates" and "The Red Charade." They are both very pirate-y.) As with a lot of Symphonic albums, there's an intro, an outro, an interlude, and even an ever so sweat acoustic ballad that evokes classic imagery while breaking your heart all at the same time ("The White Witch").

Standout tracks are many on this album, but I gravitated toward "The Northwest Passage," "An Ocean Between Us Part III - A New World," "Vento Aureo," and "Lies and Ashes." This is one of those albums you can just play over and over again and your favorites will change over time depending on your mood and what's happening in your life. All things considered, this is an excellent album for any time and any season.

8 / 10









"Tales of the Seven Seas" Track-listing:

1.  Anuri
2.  The Northwest Passage
3.  An Ocean Between Us Part III - A New World
4.  Dunkirk Privateers
5.  Vento Aureo
6.  Naupaktos
7.  Manti (Interlude)
8.  The Red Charade
9.  Hasard
10.  Samudr Ka Mandir
11.  Lies & Ashes
12.  Leap of Faith
13.  The White Witch
14.  As Above, So Below (Outro)

Crusade of Bards Lineup:

Marc Brode - Bass
You - Drums
Adrián "The Time Knitter" Carrero - Guitars
Paolo "The Bard" Andreotti - Keyboards, vocals
Captain Eleanor Tenebre - Vocals
Eduardo Guilló - Vocals

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