So the other day I am talking to a colleague and she says “Have you checked out Volbeat”, to which my response was “What on God’s green Earth is a Volbeat?” It kind of sounds like a Danish kitchen aid and as it turned out I have one part of that correct, the Danish part. Volbeat are a Danish metal band that formed in Copenhagen and released their first studio album The Strength/The Sound/The Songs in late 2005. The band would have success on the Danish music charts with their debut album reaching No. 18, however this was just the start as the band’s second album Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil (2007) would debut at No. 1. In 2008 the band would go straight to No.1 on the Finnish music charts with the release of their third album Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood and in 2010 the band would release their next album Beyond Hell/Above Heaven before headlining the Download Festival in June of that year. They would also join Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer on the “Big Four Tour” as the opening act at a show in Switzerland.
So this brings us to 2013 and the newest addition to their catalogue Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies. Not having heard a Volbeat record before I really didn’t know what they were about and honestly after listening to the album, I am still not sure. I’ll explain, Volbeat simply cannot be labelled as a metal band and left at that, because what Volbeat do is incorporate a variety of other styles of music into their brand of metal. Anything from rockabilly to country, from rock to thrash metal and even schlager music, which is prevalent in Central and Northern Europe. The only other band I can relate to along these lines is Faith No More, with their fusion of rock/jazz/funk/metal.
The record begins with Let’s Shake Some Dust which is an instrumental of wild, wild west proportions, if you close your eyes and listen you can imagine Clint Eastwood or John Wayne in a good old fashion shoot ’em up scene. From there the album launches into Pearl Hart, the first of many odes to gunslingers, this is a pretty catchy hard rock track and you might find yourself singing this one all day. The Nameless One features a really cool spaghetti western flavoured guitar solo, while it tell the tale of a couple who have passed into the afterlife and try to escape the from the Outlaw Ghoul. Dead But Rising is a heavier track, as is Room 24 which features guest vocals from King Diamond, personally I found this to be the weak link of the album. The Hangman’s Body Count could have easily been a Metallica song, and speaking of Metallica, have you ever wondered what Metallica would sound like if they added a banjo? Well neither have I, however if I did I would imagine it would sound a lot like Doc Holliday, which by the title is pretty self explanatory if you are up to speed on your Wyatt Earp/American wild west history.
All in all what Volbeat have created here is a really enjoyable 14 track album, that isn’t quite a concept album, but does pay tribute on a regular basis to heroes and outlaws of the wild west. I cannot tell you about any of their previous work or compare this album to past efforts as I am arriving a little late to the Volbeat party, but in terms of this record I was quite pleasantly surprised at what I heard and I believe I would like to hear some more.