I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Naufragant – A Short Life
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal/Pirate Metal
Run Time: 52:23, 9 Tracks
Label: Stormspell Records
Yarr, me hearties! Tis getting crowded on the decks of the good ship Stormspell Records! The longtime home of pirate/speed metal act Blazon Stone is stepping up their game in the Pirate Metal sweepstakes with their newest signing, Argentina's Naufragant. Stormspell released the Buenos Aires based combo's debut full length album, A Short Life, in the Summer of 2022.
When I first received the promo of A Short Life, my first reaction was... what in the bloody blue blazes is a "Naufragant?" It sounded like some kind of fancy cheese. A quick Google search revealed that it's Latin for "Shipwreck," which I guess makes sense, given the band's lyrical obsession with "the golden age of piracy." Just don't ask me how to pronounce it!
Further Googling revealed that the band was formerly known as Skull & Bones. They released one album under that moniker (2014's The Cursed Island) before they changed their name to avoid confusion with a Brazilian band also called Skull & Bones (what are the odds?).
Soooo, now that we're all caught up on the band's brief history, let's dive into Davy Jones' locker and see how A Short Life stacks up against releases by their obvious heroes like Running Wild, Alestorm, Blazon Stone, and the like. Prepare to be boarded, ye scurvy dogs!
Somehow I expected A Short Life to be more symphonic in nature than it is (perhaps due to my exposure to Grimgotts, another nautically obsessed band in the Stormspell stable). Don't get me wrong, Naufragant does employ keyboards and there's a fair share of classical/cinematic influence in their music, but they're not nearly as overblown or over-the-top as, say, Rhapsody (which is a good thing).
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After the one-minute-and-change instrumental intro "The Oath" sets the tone, A Short Life slams into the first track proper, "The Black Corsair," a rollicking tale of high-seas skullduggery with a nice heavy groove beneath the symphonic flavorings.
I was especially impressed to learn that much of A Short Life is the work of just two guys: vocalist/keyboardist Franco Tempesta and guitarist/bassist Tommy Vega. Cederick "Ced" Forsberg of Rocka Rollas and Blazon Stone fame briefly turns up to provide a guest guitar solo for "On The Traitor's Trace," a killer speed metal throwdown that leads into the lengthy (six and a half minutes) "Of War, Hurricanes, and Bane."
It was at this point that I started to wonder if A Short Life was supposed to be a concept album. The digital promo I recieved didn't come with a lyric sheet, but according to the fine folks at Metal-Archives, tracks 1-5 are "inspired by the novel Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari," and tracks 6-9 are based on "authentic pirate legends such as Black Bart Roberts, Port Royal, the Brethren of the Coast, and the infamous Blackbeard." I'll just smile and nod and take their word for it, since the extent of my pirate knowledge is limited to reading Treasure Island when I was in grade school and seeing one or two of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Naufragant pulls out all the stops on the eight and a half minute epic "The Battle For Gibraltar," which chugs through the waves at a nice swashbuckling pace, eventually cresting through the waves that lead into the heads-down, anthemic title track. "Hoist The Colors" is a pretty killer bouncy jiggety-jig and the one-two punch of the down n' dirty "Pirate Blood" and the closing "Blackbeard" bring the listener's high-seas trip to an end with the skull and crossbones flag flying high.
In short ... Naufragant's ship holds water, and those of ye who be looking for high seas adventure should definitely enjoy this voyage!
Summing It Up
After umpteen Running Wild albums and a heap of Blazon Stone releases, I didn't really think that I needed any more Pirate Metal in my life, but Naufragant's slick, melodic (but still heavy) take on the genre was a most pleasant surprise. Fans of the aforementioned bands, as well as melodic/symphonic power metal in general, should be more than pleased to set sail with Naufragant on A Short Life.
Collectors take note: as usual for Stormspell releases, the CD pressing of A Short Life is an extremely limited run of 300 copies, so if you want one for your shelf, buy now or cry later, as the saying goes.
© 2022 Keith Abt