Ahoy, matey! Here be the five best albums to introduce ye to pirate metal, as chosen by masters of the highs seas, Visions of Atlantis co-vocalist Michele Guaitoli.

Pirate metal is a subgenre of metal that has a rather obvious theme. It's niche, but rich in what has to offer — the thrill of adventure, the allure of fantasy and, simply, fun!

While pirate metal stretches back nearly four decades, it's a style that has been reinvented over time. And there is no better time to be a fan than right now. Visions of Atlantis are broadening the scope of pirate metal, offering more immersion than most.

So, who better to introduce you to the world of pirate metal?

But first...

What You Need to Know About Visions of Atlantis

From: Austria

First Album: Eternal Endless Infinity (2002)

New Album: Pirates II - Armada (2024)

Before recording their 2000 demo as Visions of Atlantis, the Austrian group formed in 1995 under the moniker Vipera Aspis.

Drummer Thomas Caser is the lone remaining member from those early days. While he's the band's anchor musically, he's captain of the Visions of Atlantis ship and has assembled various crews over the years, keeping the sound moving ahead as well.

The symphonic/cinematic elements are what separate Visions of Atlantis from many other seafaring adventurers in the scene.

Speaking about the single "Tonight I'm Alive," Pirate Queen Clementine Delauney (vocals) says, “We stand on the eve of a dark future, with threats, enemies, and clouds gathering in every direction. On the edge of this cliff, staring into the void that awaits us, one could flee, one could lose their mind. We, pirates, we dance. We dance in the face of danger and death. We honor life; we honor our existence. We remember that the purity of our hearts and souls can never be taken away from us. We remember that in this very moment, we’re alive. Come what may, we’ll dance in the rain.”

Watch the music video below.

Visions of Atlantis, "Tonight I'm Alive" Music Video

Follow Visions of Atlantis on Instagram and Facebook. Get your copy of Pirates II — Armada at the Napalm Records webstore.

Five Best Albums to Introduce You to Pirate Metal, Chosen by Visions of Atlantis' Michele Guaitoli

Pirate metal band Visions of Atlantis press photo, album covers from Running Wild, Visions of Atlantis, Swashbuckle
Robert Eikelpoth/Blake Armstrong / Noise Records / Napalm / Nuclear Blast

Running Wild, Under Jolly Roger (1987)

This is the third record by Running Wild, but it’s the very first one that introduced the pirate theme in Running Wild. Before that, they mostly had occult lyrics.

Running Wild are THE pirate metal band. They basically invented the style or at least they are the ones that truly brought the pirate universe into metal, not only in the lyrics and in their cover art, but also onstage. Songs such as the title track “Under Jolly Roger” are hymns that made history and in the end, every pirate metal band that exists today owes something to Rock’n’ Rolf.

Recommended Song: "Under Jolly Roger"

Visions of Atlantis, Pirates! (2022)

Music evolves, technology evolves and between 1987 (Under Jolly Roger from Running Wild) and 2022 (Pirates from VoA) it’s been 35 years.

More pirate metal bands have established themselves in the scene, but we — Visions of Atlantis — and especially with Pirates (and with the upcoming follow-up Pirates II - Armada), truly feel the most committed to the pirate “universe".

This can be witnessed in not only our intricate and thematic artwork, but our true-to-theme stage outfits, music and merchandise. In just a handful of years, we’ve pushed to transform pirate metal from just existing as a lyrical and visual concept to a whole cinematographic universe that finds its final expression in our music videos, which are actually more like mini-movies! Big orchestras, cinematic soundscapes, detailed looks, the band photos and artwork: everything takes the listener on an epic journey in a “romantic” pirate-world.

Suggested song: “Master the Hurricane"

Ye Banished Privateers, The Legend of Libertalia

Someone might raise a hand and object that this is not a metal album, as indeed Ye Banished Privateers are a folk-pirate-band, or a band that plays traditional pirate songs.

You might also say that some bands that appear on the biggest metal festivals of the world are Celtic bands rather than Celtic-metal bands or folk bands rather than folk-metal bands.

YBP totally deserve a mention if you are to truly understand pirate metal — it is fundamental to understand what pirate music is. Nowadays, Ye Banished Privateers are the band to listen to to grasp the real vibe of a bunch of pirates playing in a tavern in some seafaring town while the other guests are drinking rum and grog.

This record is my personal pick for the overall quality. To be specific, we’re talking about original songs here.

Suggested Song: "You and Me and the Devil makes Three"

READ MORE: 10 Metal Subgenres That Need Serious Explaining

Swashbuckle, Back to the Noose

Pirate metal, as intended by Running Wild, is power/heavy metal with storytelling. Pirate metal as intended by VoA is symphonic/cinematic metal with storytelling. Pirate metal (or yes, pirate music) as intended by Ye Banished Privateers is the purest form of pirate music, as if we could travel back in time.

Swashbuckle are the living proof that pirate metal can also adapt to a completely different style: death metal. Just listen to “Rounds of Rum” or “Cruise Ship Terror”. You’ll still find yourself aboard a pirate ship with a bunch of pirates surrounding you, screaming as loud as possible. Just forget about the romantic pirates and the big melody and embrace the dark side.

Suggested song: “Rounds of Rum"

The Dread Crew of Oddwood, Rust & Glory (2024)

Straight from California comes a super iconic band that, with every song, will take you into a crazy adventure. I personally find it hard to choose a specific record, so I’m going with Rust & Glory, their freshest release, as I believe it showcases the band at its most mature.

Close your eyes, press play and if you've ever played Monkey Island or if you’ve ever read a pirate adventure, The Dread Crew of Oddwood will offer you exactly the soundtrack you would expect, in every detail.

Watch their videos too. It’s fun — real fun!

Suggested song: "Leather Ship”

The 5 Best Albums to Introduce You to Funeral Doom, by Ahab's Christian Hector

Ahab guitarist Christian Hector curates an ideal introduction to the funeral doom genre with these five albums.

Gallery Credit: by Ahab's Christian Hector