I doubt it comes as a surprise to seasoned Bilgemunky.com readers that I have strong preferences with regards to pirate music. By and large, I want it, well, piratey. Meaning shameless, brazen, and loud. All too often sea shanties are performed in the folk-song manner of your Great Aunt Gertrude (meaning toothless and dry) – or worse yet, a kindergarten teacher just before nap-time. But it’s bands like The Dreadnoughts that show us why traditional sea shanties can still kick ass.
With their first album “Legends Never Die”, The Dreadnoughts hold nothing back as they apply electric guitars, drums, fiddles, accordions, and pub-punk vocals to get the most out of traditional and original songs alike. Old favorites such as Old Maui, Katie Bar the Door, Roll the Woodpile Down, and The Dreadnought are all given a new, modernly-pirate life reminiscent of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphies. This Irish rock influence is also clear in the album’s original tracks that sound so at home amongst the other shanties that they’re sure to be in danger of being mistaken for traditional. Fire Marshall Willy, Antarctica, A Rambler’s Life, and others all add to the extended pirate rock-out session this album offers.
Of course, the one track that entirely stands out is “Mary the One Eyed Prostitute Who Fought the Colossal Squid and Saved Us from Certain Death on the High Seas, God Rest Her One Eyed Soul.” Easily on par with the rest of this album’s high quality songs, Mary boasts the additional quality of having the most highly braggable title I’ve seen on a pirate album in some long while.
Throughout the album, instrumentals and vocals seamlessly flow from almost-traditional to full out modern. This merger makes Legends Never Die a clear evolution of the traditional sea shanty, rather than a total reinvention. In this way even die-hard fans of true, crusty sea shanties may well find much to enjoy on this album. And as for those who prefer to mosh to true pirate rock? This is definitely their album, as The Dreadnoughts demonstrate Pirate-Core at its truest and finest.