Volbeat are a band which are held in high regards by almost everyone in the blog team, they are one of those acts which cover so many sub-genres in metal that there is something for everyone. The first time we looked at Volbeat was way back when the blog started with 'Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil' (review linked here, sort of embarrassing in a way) and it was given an very high mark. But to be honest (at least for me), I have not really listened to their last album 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies' and I cannot think for the life of me why that is the case. It is nothing the band has done wrong; I think it was more that I was really into Frank Zappa a lot when it came out and I forgot about it. But I was glad that I managed to persuade Luke that I should review this (although it has cost me the right to review the next NOFX album). So, who are this band that we all like? Well, Volbeat formed in 2001 in Copenhagen, Denmark and have been spreading their gospel of rock, roll & metal over the course of five previous studio albums and one live album. Their sixth studio album which we are reviewing here was released on the Vertigo label on 3rd June 2016 and has had five tracks taken off it. It has reached the number one in seven countries, the top ten in America and the top twenty in the UK; the band are on the up once again and now it is time to see if the music is worthy of the attention - by the way, we will be reviewing the standard European version of the album, not the American version or the deluxe version.
01 - The Devil's Bleeding Crown
'The Devil's Bleeding Crown' starts off the album with the high rock/metal style that has been the Volbeat signature, but you can hear a lighter touch to their previous works. This was the first single to be released in North America, reaching the top of the Mainstream Rock chart. It does have that driven style, a riff that sticks around for ages and a solo that you wish would never end. But even though it is more rock than metal, it is still a brilliant start to this record that is still attention grabbing.
02 - Marie Laveau
Keeping up the lighter touch, 'Marie Laveau' is just one of those moments that the younger Eddie would have probably ran away from screaming, it reminds me of early glam and hard rock which was not my taste. But I am sitting here, old and no wiser with this song blasting out and it sounds great. It is incredibly simple, a strong main riff, a gentle acoustic touch and the vocals are brilliant - what is there not to like?
03 - For Evigt
This song is not on the American version and is replaced by an English version of the song called 'The Bliss' which is one of the tracks used on the deluxe version in the rest of the world. The difference between the two is that the chorus is sung in English, other than that both versions sound pretty much the same, down to the banjo solo. Featuring Johan Olsen from Magtens Korridorer, 'For Evigt' translates to 'Forever' and this was the was the first single to be released around the rest of the world. It is a great song, one that goes down the classic rock route once again more than the metal route and its message of memories and emotions is a powerful one.
04 - The Gates of Babylon
This song is a retelling of the Mesopotamian myth of the descent of the goddess Ishtar into the Underworld and her rescue; the song has Middle Eastern overtones to the guitar and sound; the lyrics are very good and it comes across like an epic tale that has been transformed into a modern medium. I like it a lot, but something is stopping me from loving it from the start and it took a few spins to click for me.
05 - Let It Burn
Back in slower territory here, Volbeat are aiming for the heart and saying that sometimes you need to burn the old to welcome in the new. It is a strong sentiment indeed and it is performed over a strong riff that could go on forever. However, much like 'The Gates of Babylon', it took a few spins to make sense to me and that usually means that songs will stick around a lot longer.
06 - Black Rose
Featuring the all-round legend that is Danko Jones, this is a rock 'n' roll heaven for fans of both Volbeat and Danko Jones. It is high octane, power rock that has metal overtones and a sing-a-long chorus that will make people hit the floor as fast as they can and it will also bring a smile to the face of anyone blessed with the gift of life.
07 - Rebound
Hard pounding drums start this song off; a hard rock riff comes in and the pace does not seem to get out of introductions sadly. The riff is good, but it needs a little bit more power behind it or to be raise by a minor key to give it more presence. However, this tale of getting your arse handed to you when chasing another man's lady is very short and over in just under two and a half minutes.
08 - Mary Jane Kelly
'Mary Jane Kelly' is the tale of a broken lady who has secrets to keep and a life that was took too soon. It is following a similar path to the rest of the album, a strong riff, a great vocal and a brilliant solo; once more it took a while to sink in and only then did I start to enjoy it. It is not changing the world for me, but it is a decent hard rock number that ticks all the right spots.
09 - Goodbye Forever
I like this song despite myself as it is the sort of number that I tend to run away from, usually with speed and the devil on my tail. The acoustic riff on the song is really good, the band sound as solid as they have throughout the recording and it is all kept together with a marshal performance on this song from singer Michael Poulsen. The choir towards the end is a little cheesy to be honest, but not without charm to be honest. A consistent song I think, within the already established parameters of the album.
10 - Seal the Deal
The title track of the album has a lot more rock than roll about it, the energy which I usually associate with this album is an ever present on this song and it feels like an old friend that has come back to have a party. It is another album which does just enough to keep you interest and no more than that, they are not in full fury here, but they are not being lazy either. I love the bridge bit in the middle, it seems so simple and it just makes me smile each time that it is on.
11 - Battleship Chains
This one is the sort of song where you can park your brain and just enjoy the music, it is a simple song about feeling weighted down by a relationship and needing freedom to a certain degree. It has a simple riff, simple vocals and it is all very effective as it is a bit of an ear worm and it sounds very similar to a lot of classic 1970’s rock. So, it may not be the most original song on this album, but it is one of the best on the record. (UPDATE - Luke has confirmed to me that this is actually a cover of a song original by Georgia Satellites).
12 - You Will Know
The penultimate song of the album is called ‘You Will Know’ and the misery is pouring over you on this song, it does not have a happy tone from the beginning and then the verse comes in and it sort of goes back to basic Volbeat 101; it had such an interesting beginning and then it just sorts of feels like they have retreated backwards to a safe place on this song. A missed opportunity here to create something slightly different to their other songs on this album.
13 - The Loa's Crossroad
And now we have reached the end of the standard version of the album and it is a rock & roll attack for this number, with a tale of territory and misery that is draped over a classic rock number and some of the heaviest drumming on the whole record. I love this song, it just pips ‘Black Rose’ for song of the album due to the pace, the slight difference to the rest of the album and the energy coming off the song – what a way to end the album and the bagpipe solo makes me smile!
I like this album, but it is not without flaws if we are honest. Volbeat operate in a very specific set of rules and they sometime can constrain the band and they rarely venture out of their own parameters in the same way that AC/DC, Airbourne and The Answer pretty music keep on releasing the same album. This is not saying that they do not do their job well, I think this is a great album for what it is; however, it does mean that a thirteen-track album feels a lot longer than it really ought to be and that is without the additional bonus tracks that they have added to other versions of this album. But it is still a great record that will make their fans very happy, but maybe it could have been a spectacular one with a little trimming.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my time, money and heart
Top song - The Loa’s Crossroad
You can purchase Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie on Amazon here.
You can visit the Volbeat web site here (which also has a web store)
You can follow the activities of Volbeat on Facebook here.
You can stream the deluxe version of Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie on Spotify here
You can stream the deluxe version of Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie on Deezer here.
You can stream the deluxe version of Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie on Tidal here.