Review: Captain Black Beard – Neon Sunrise
Mighty Music (October 7th, 2022)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
I feel I should get this out of the way first. Captain Black Beard is not Pirate Metal. This band with one of the most misleading names in music is a hard rock act drenched in keyboard laden melodies. Their latest release ‘Neon Sunrise‘ offers just that. Fans of Brother Firetribe, Nitrate, and Night Flight Orchestra are the target audience, and they hit their mark with this album.
Kicking things off is ‘Flamenco’, a high-octane song about getting away from it all, it features a smoking solo that starts unassuming then grows in intensity before exploding back into the bridge and chorus. ‘We’re The Forgiven’ is next and keeps things interesting with a chorus that at times drops the string instruments to emphasize the drums and keys, bringing power and urgency in the process. It shakes up a song that could have been otherwise basic and routine in its approach. Track 3 is first single ‘Physical’. The song is well constructed and fits it with the overall energy the album is producing, but I do not think it should have been released as a single. I found the lyrics to be a little silly (“Are you physical enough to retain my heart”?) and there are better songs to be found on the album.
One of those better songs is ‘Wasted Heart’. As of this review it has not been released as a single and it would be a mistake by the label if it is not. An absolute winner with choral vocables to sing along to, its anthemic power chords and underlying keyboard melody is everything you would want from melodic rock. ‘Chains of Love’ is another track that has single potential and features an AOR-style keyboard melody line along with some stylistic wordplay in the chorus, with its repeats of the word “locked’ in a rhythmic fashion that makes the listener have no choice but to sing along to its infectious sway.
Another song that stood out to me amongst all the great melodies was ‘Burning Daylight’. While not the song with the fastest melody, I did appreciate its use of double bass playing, a drum choice that is usually reserved for Metal songs. Here it adds a stark differential between parts of the song that are more AOR sounding and parts that kick into an almost Power Metal feel. It’s the track I remembered most after several playthroughs of the album.
Something I was surprised to not find included was a ballad. The closest to one was the second to last track ‘State of Denial’, a mid-tempo track with a beautiful harmonic chorus that feels almost like a ballad by default as there’s a consistent burst of energy running throughout the album with a slight slowdown here.
There are a few things here that could have made the album a little better. ‘Moment of Truth’ delivers some high-energy, but the tempo is a tad too fast. The band seems like it is trying to get to the end of the song as quickly as possible. Even a song like ‘Night Reaction’, an open the throttle and gun it rocker, could have benefited from reigning in the speed ever so slightly. Finally, can bands please end the practice of putting in interludes, intros, and outros that no one will ever add to any playlists? The title track is a one and a half minute plodding, roughly recorded keyboard melody with sound effects thrown around that serves no purpose, made worse by being the last track on the album.
Once again, do not let the name fool you. This is a band that has that unmistakable 80’s hard rock sound that could have been huge if this material were released back then. Minor quips aside, this is an anthemic drenched powerhouse of an album, with incredible appeal to those who still musically reside in the 80’s. I can never get enough of stuff like this.