Thursday, April 11, 2013

Volbeat: Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Hmm.  Somehow, no matter how much energy I devote to the cause, TONIGHT STILL ISN'T OVER.  So let's talk Volbeat, which will be so much easier since I found my headphones and can now drown out not just the kids, but also the Dinosaur Train with ease.

Okay.  First of all, the basics.  Volbeat was formed over ten years ago - in 2000 according to Screamer Magazine, or 2001 according to Wikipedia - and this is their fifth studio album.  They're also all Danish, all the time, save their newest member, lead guitarist and former Anthrax dude Rob Caggiano (incidentally, I read about him joining the band on the Screamer Magazine website and I actually teared up from the sweetness of the story.  hormones, anyone?).  And that's just the beginning - besides being fuzzy and adorable, in a metal-y sort of way, they also "play a fusion of rock and roll, heavy metal, punk and rockabilly", per Wikipedia, and lead singer Michael Poulsen grew up listening to a combination of "Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and little Richard" and "Dio, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and stuff like that" (per Screamer Magazine again), so you know they come by the sound honestly.  And to throw another quote at you, Poulsen also says that "One of the things I’m most happy about this time is the contrast in the material, the range of the music; on the one side, you have the western motifs, the rockabilly / country songs, and the real emotional melodies, and on the other, some of the heaviest – actually, THE heaviest – songs we have ever recorded" (from an interview at Metal Hammer).  And with that, let's get to the tunes.

So, because of the genre no-man's-land that this record exists in, it's a bit hard to describe.  However, certain things stick out so much that I can't help but remark them, such as the fact that Poulsen's lyrical delivery splits the difference between Metallica's James Hetfield and Incubus's Brandon Boyd, and that the musical tone of this album is pretty much exactly what you would expect from rockabilly metal, except better.  For instance, "Room 24" featuring King Diamond begins with a ponderous, blurry guitar progression over a background of sharp drums and muffled moaning and then segues into a speed metal bit complete with background vocals ("My mind is awake/I open my eyes but it's so hard to breathe/Something is in here to silence my screams"), and personal favorite (and Young the Giant cover) "My Body" mixes a porous alt-rock guitar with a galloping beat and a crazy rockabilly chorus that's so catchy it's criminal ("Is it my fault, then/If fallen embers burn/Down in a spiral").  "Lonesome Rider" featuring Sarah Blackwood is another delightful surprise, with an almost-Spanish guitar, a swingin' beat, and the added bonus of female vocals ("Just feel all the love I've given you/I'm back from the war I've been missing you/Where have you gone my baby blue/I'm here all alone I've been bleeding too").

Long story short, it's late, I'm tired, and my brain appears to be working at half-pace, so I'm not sure I can do this album justice in the whole description department.  Nevertheless, in my opinion, this record is the PERFECT blend of hard metal elements and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll/rockabilly/country/'50s crooners, and even represents the Wild West element inherent in the title without overdoing it.  It's also catchy without sounding soft, emotionally charged without sounding trite (ahem, I'm lookin' at you, Trapt), and is basically the most personally appealing metal record I've heard since starting this blog.  Or in other words, the only way I would like it more is if it fed me homemade pickles and babysat while I listened to it.  Of course, then my husband would seem unnecessary, so it's probably best it doesn't.

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