It’s been said before and oft bears repeating, but supergroups are a dime a dozen nowadays and while most seem to rely more on name recognition from previous work than anything, others opt to branch out and do something truly unique.
Enter Legend of the Seagullmen, a fusion of Hollywood director Jimmy Hayward (Jonah Hex, Horton Hears A Who) with legendary sticksman Danny Carey (Tool) with Dethklok’s Pete Griffin, Mastodon maestro Brent Hinds and artist David ‘The Doctor’ Dreyer. The idea took root to write a nautical spaghetti western, and so were the seeds, of Legend of the Seagullmen, planted.
After years gestating and forming, the proggy, nautical psychedelia is upon us all, opening with the tolling of the bell in ‘We Are the Seagullmen’ and a rumbling bassline, before the drums enter like rolling waves followed by guitars and keys with sea-shanty chants of the track title. Second track ‘The Fogger’ opens with creaking ships and a rollicking rhythm before it seems to lurch and fall apart, a controlled collapse brought back in with a typically excellent solo from Brent and picking back up for a return to the chorus.
Legend of the Seagullmen is an ode to giant, mutant squid and shipwrecks, with the exploits of the Seagullmen front and centre, crafting hymns of epic proportions. The keys often employed throughout are reminiscent of an accordion or more old-school synth sounds that lend an almost vintage ‘70s blues rock feel to the album.
The entire album lends itself to grandiosity such as the slow-burning opening of ‘Curse of the Red Tide’ that showcases the vocals over top of piano and strings. The song alternates between these calmer passages with Dreyer crooning softly over piano and strings and more turbulent heavy passages. That isn’t to say the band don’t write more straightforward rock songs amongst their epic maritime storytelling. ‘Legend of the Seagullmen’ has sci-fi synths and hurtles forward, all rock’n’roll theatrics and ripping guitar solos with lyrics about the power of the Seagullmen themselves.
Where the band excel most is where they stretch their sea legs and let the songs breathe; ‘The Orca’ is a shining example of this, with the song shifting between menacing synth passages and bluesy riffing and Dreyer’s evocative, dramatic baritone. Vocally, the shifts between use of spoken word Clutch-esque bluesy singing elevate the songs with their versatility - ‘Rise of the Giant’ is possibly Dreyer’s finest performance on the album with his tale of a giant squid attacking Hollywood beach to kill and feed before it retreats back into the deeps set against a hulking heavy metal backdrop.
Closer ‘Ballad of the Deep Sea Diver’ brings the threads of the album together at the end, with nods to Nick Cave as well as spaghetti westerns all underscored with an orchestral score put together by film composer Dom Lewis. It’s equal parts Pirates of the Caribbean and murder ballad and is possibly one of the oddest and most engrossing tracks of the entire album.
In less capable hands, the sci-fi and horror nautical tales could have come across as too cheesy or fallen flat but the incredible pedigree of the members alongside some show-stopping performances stop the album sliding too far into comedy record territory. If anything it doesn’t last long enough but there’s certainly something to be said for refusing to outstay one’s welcome. The eclectic and unhinged nature of Legend of the Seagullmen make it a must-hear for any fan of the band’s other projects and fans of nautical heavy metal that gleefully refuses to take itself too seriously.