While there are plenty of examples of notable established artists banding together, often leading to exciting results, such as Hollywood Vampires, A Perfect Circle and Alter Bridge, if the obnoxious, exaggerative term ‘super-group’ wasn’t already enough of an indication that certain projects such as these perhaps don’t take themselves quite so seriously, then you need look no further than Legend Of The Seagullmen. Combining the likes of Tool’s Danny Carey and Brent Hinds of Mastodon, alongside film director Jimmy Hayward on additional guitar duties, and ex-Zappa Plays Zappa bassist Pete Griffin, the group’s expanded arsenal stretches even further to include guitarist Tim Dawson, Chris DiGiovanni on synth and keyboards, and of course on lead vocals, the ‘visionary’ David ‘The Doctor’ Dreyer, as described on the project’s official website. The band’s objective? To “sing of ship wrecks and giant mutant squid,” and “crafting conceptual rock ‘n’ roll hymns of epic proportions.” And oh boy, do they ever.
Stylistically, the band’s 2018 debut, Legend Of The Seagullmen, wastes no time at all in establishing its prerogative; diving into opener ‘We Are The Seagullmen’, the album’s bombastic, nautical influences are front and center, navy bells tolling ominously while David Dreyer’s menacing chants of “we are the seagullmen” build gradually over moody, prog-rock instrumentals. The atmosphere carries neatly over to following track, ‘The Fogger’, scorching guitar leads and a ‘Crazy Train’-esque riff peppering the track, while Danny Carey’s signature thunderous percussion keeps things moving and David Dreyer’s aggressive lower register once again captains the track into explosive oblivion. Sure, it’s all spectacularly tongue-in-cheek material, but the competency of its performances cannot be denied in the slightest, not to mention simply how evidently on-board all members of ‘The Seagullmen’ clearly are.
Indeed, while taking clear inspiration from the likes of 70s to 80s English heavy metal standouts, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, alongside flavors of thrash metal titans Metallica, plenty of Legend Of The Seagullmen’s riffy, solo-heavy instrumental work is abundantly enjoyable throughout the record, such as the blistering introductory ‘Legend Of The Seagullmen’ riff, or ‘Shipswreck’s spectacular guitar solo. Alongside these comes even further instances of weird and wonderful experimentation and inspiration, ‘Shipswreck’s introductory synth reminiscent of 80s John Carpenter soundtracks, while ‘Ballad Of The Deep Sea Diver’ takes advantage of a cocky, western over driven riff. As a whole, much of the album’s charm owes itself heavily to a writing process preferring to record ideas on the fly, a method admitted by Danny Carey while reflecting on his drum work for the record; playing for the simple sake of enjoying playing, and seeing if something good comes out of it.
Of course, much of the album’s lyrical content holds both the heart of the record, and its most entertaining factor; while briskly navigating plenty of Nordic influences, nautical myths and monsters, and roaring hooks such as “x marks the spot” and “we are the seagullmen”, the members of the “genre destroying super-group” are hamming things up to spectacular heights, and loving every glorious minute of it. It’s an album completely geared towards having as much fun as possible and welcoming all along for the ride, although the unprepared listener may require an unexpected hefty pinch of (sea)salt before accepting the sheer ridiculous of the album’s nature.
There are certainly likely to be those disappointed with the direction taken on the record, perhaps expecting something more akin to Danny Carey’s Tool or Brent Hinds’ Mastodon, but if you’re at all surprised by the type of material produced by a group of individuals referring to themselves as the Legend Of The Seagullmen, then perhaps things are being taken just a little bit too seriously. Ultimately, the album boasts plenty of consistency instrumentally, while also launching the band wholeheartedly into the kind of lyrical content more commonly expected of Alestorm, the only true Achilles heel of the record being rather simple; while impressive, the album’s charming novelty suffers the risk of waning significantly following only a few listens. Despite this, there is plenty enough material to enjoy that will surely make for a killer live set, no doubt with fake pirate beards, inflatable Kraken tentacles attacking the audience, and an overhead projection of Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa harassing Keira Knightley and stabbing Jack Sparrow on a loop.