The seeds of swashbuckling supergroup Legend Of The Seagullmen were first sown when Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and Hollywood director Jimmy Hayward were introduced by mutual friend (and Kyuss/QOTSA mainman) Josh Homme. Quickly realising they had much in common, the pair then enlisted Tool drummer extraordinaire Danny Carey, Dethklok bassist Pete Griffin and vocalist/artist David ‘The Doctor’ Dreyer to create a group that could kick more ass than a boot-clad Kraken.
After a brief false start three years ago that saw the good ship Seagullmen spring a leak when demos made their way onto the internet earlier than expected, the band have officially launched with this self-titled concept album. Harking back to the days of classic, 70s-era psychedelic rock, while throwing in some cinematic, NWOBHM and punk influences, the rock opera is a regularly stunning, knowingly arch affair.
Featuring eight tracks, Legend Of The Seagullmen is rich with ghoulish sea shanties such as Shipswreck, stories of ‘Seagull God-Kings’ and crazy characters who, according to The Fogger, ‘feast on the souls in the seas they patrol’. Instantly infectious, the opus is heaving with some delicious cheese and the likes of the bullish, Murder City Devils-tinged title track and the hulking, hammy, heavy metal tour de force that is Rise Of The Giant will have fans falling for their obvious charms hook, line and sinker, NWOBHM and punk influences, the rock opera is a regularly stunning, knowingly arch affair.
In other, lesser musicians’ hands, the seafaring subject matter could have seen the project drift too far into the realms of novelty or parody, but the impressive pedigree of all those involved, coupled with some jaw-dropping performances, ensure that no-one could ever call Legend Of The Seagullmen a comedy record. It’s quite the opposite in fact, as the sci-fi and horror-flavoured tales of mutant squids and monsters with ‘bird-like beaks’ are absorbing and warrant repeat plays to unravel the debut’s many mysteries.
Frontman ‘The Doctor’ does a masterful job throughout the record, both in terms of storytelling and singing (his dramatic tones call to mind King Diamond’s lower register) and Brent’s expressive guitar work is as facemelting as ever. At one point, the riff lord even mimics the album’s titular winged creatures’ cries during a blistering solo on Curse Of The Red Tide, which is every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Saving their best moment for last, Ballad Of The Deep Sea Diver is an insanely enjoyable delve into the minds of all concerned. Part Nick Cave-esque murder ballad, part sea-based spaghetti western, and bolstered by an orchestral score courtesy of movie soundtrack composer Dom Lewis, the bizarre but brilliant number is unlike anything you’ll hear all year.
Legend Of The Seagullmen is inventive, eclectic and gleefully unhinged, but if there are any criticisms to be made it’s that it’s over too soon. The appeal of leaving their audience wanting more is understandable, though, and it’s not hard to imagine Jason Momoa’s silver-screen incarnation of lord of the deep Aquaman rocking out to this while busting some heads. Here’s hoping the Seagullmen have a sequel in the pipeline.