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Resurrection is the second studio album from the San Jose, California based group O’Craven. You can purchase a copy of this album at CDBaby. The band was initially formed in 2006 and play Celtic Pirate Rock, being one of if not the first band to wander into those waters. Band members have come and gone but the sound has been consistent and the shows are always excellent. Whether full electric or acoustic O’Craven will sacrifice body and soul (yours or theirs, they’re not picky) for a great show.
This album as opposed to their previous album, Whiskey, Wenches & Scallywags, is much more PIRATE focused. The previous album I think had a more Celtic Rock feel, where as this album is most definitely a PIRATE album. A little bit rock and roll, a little bit Celtic, a lot more pirate; this album definitely is a representation of the band I have seen numerous times live.
“The Voyage” starts us off with a skit with some excellent background music that for some reason is reminding me of a mixture of Alestorm’s “Drink” and O’Craven’s own “Devil’s Drink”, but is actually a lead in to their next song “Devils Curse”. What is really nice about the skit is making sure the vocals are taking place at different locations, as it would on a ship.
Now “Devils Curse” is an interesting take for me because I’ve seen this song live and now listening to its recorded form. A strong opener on the album, but absolutely fantastic live. I’m not sure the album version is actually doing Captain Cloud’s vocals justice. Of course any song that can take the traditional Yo Ho Ho and give to us in a new way is always welcome. It does a solid job getting you in the right mindset for the rest of the album. It’s just such a great live song I highly suggest finding video of it.
“Skull and Bones” is a song whose name alone will attract pirates, thankfully it also delivers. Much like “Devils Curse” this is a FANTASTIC live song that really gets the crowd involved (so now predictions from me on this album since I already know). The recording of it also misses a bit of that live charm like “Devils Curse” but I have no doubt it will become a fan favorite. Even now as I listen and type I feel the urge inside to sing along to the chorus of Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum.
“Banshee” starts off with some fantastic guitar riffs that O’Craven is known for. The first more Celtic song on the album, at least by subject matter, does not slow the intensity the album has been having. I’m not sure if it’s the subject or I just have a jonesing for Halloween but there is a darkness to the sound of the song. The vocals almost take me to a psycho-billy place; and this isn’t a bad thing, at least for me. There is a great instrumental section towards the back end of the song that I think really showcases the band’s ability.
“Davey Jones Mist” returns us to the piratecore, but keeps us the realm of the supernatural. A slower start than the previous three comes at the right place in the album. O’Craven is known for their black-light show and this definitely feels like a great opener for those shows. A great haunted feeling that has a great mix of guitar and violin. The line of “your souls been devil kissed when he beckons you into his mist” is absolutely fantastic.
“Prisoner In Time” for some reason begins with a sound that for me reminded me of psychedelic rock, which was an interesting transition coming off of “Davey Jones Mist”. There is definitely some interesting instrumentals going on in this song, but the lyrics are perhaps maybe even more interesting. It feels like a very personal story, reminiscent of Somewhere In Time for me. Then again my mother loved that movie so maybe that is where that is coming from.
“Revenge of the Phoenix” is a beautiful instrumental intermission if you will. For me it is perfectly place as the 7th track on the album. Five above and five below and readjusts your mind for the rest of the album. The Pirates Charles did something similar on “Invictus” last year with the Voyage of the Majestic, but I think this song is placed better than that one was. This would be a perfect song for an album of piratical instrumentals from bands.
“Mutiny” hits you in the face right off. The cadence, in my mind, works perfectly for the title of the song. Sounds like ship drummers bringing a prisoner out, so Mutiny. I think this songs definitely comes from the punk place in O’Craven’s heart. The spelling out of Mutiny, the hard and fast guitar riffs definitely feels East Bay punk to me. Another great live song, it does a great job of taking the audience on a trip; which is something I always appreciate, OI OI!
“Pirate War” again brings back that psychedelic feel at the start of the song, but then turns once again into that punk feel. One complaint I would have on this song is I’d love to hear the violin more on this, the guitars tend to take over it while declaring a pirate war. Things I do enjoy in songs is hearing pieces that I think are inspired by songs and for me there is a definite Highway Star (or Ultimate Warrior for ya wrasslin’ fans out there) homage in this song before heading towards the end. Again another song that definitely takes you on a journey.
“Resurrection” is the title song of this album and feels like a very person story of the band itself. One thing I noticed immediately is that I have higher violin on this song, the level I wanted on “Pirate War” actually. Then again these are my own personal preferences, we all know I love a good fiddle in a band. Knowing what I know, this song and a few songs on this album specifically, are very personal and tells a real story behind this band. I look forward to everyone hearing an interesting bit right around 2:30 that will make your ears perk up and turn your head like a dog. Very unexpected musical choice that I didn’t see coming and kind of dug.
“Danny Boy” opens with a violin solo and of course a signature Celtic music staple, but definitely a unique take on this classic. Actually of all the songs so far on the album I actually think this recording does Captain Cloud’s vocals the most justice to his live vocals in my opinion. The band definitely took this song and made it their own, playing with speeds and instruments to fit their own style. I know they play many Irish bars and can see this easily being a big hit there.
We come to our final song of the album, “Skallywags”, which just happens to be my favorite song on the album. Few songs are made that are PERFECT for encores, but this is the perfect song to start an encore set off with. The fact that it ends this album just brings a smile to my dark heart. Violin is showcased, the lyrics are fantastic, and you can’t help but dance to it. The guitar riff will make all of us who spent our teen years in the 90s very happy as it takes me right back there. They indeed drink with us during the song.
“Resurrection” is one of the best laid out albums, in my opinion, in some time. It is about as perfect a layout as you can get. Give them a taste, hit them with a few of the songs you know are going to be hits, give them a break, get personal and end with a high note. I look forward to their next album as they continue on this progress and give us more songs to get into the pit with. Make sure to buy their album!