Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Volbeat - Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie (2016)

Just like most metal heads out there, I am a bit two sided about the Danish group Volbeat. Sure, they are unique and they certainly have their core audience, but what exactly are they playing? Is it metal, or is it not? The fans describe Volbeat as a Elvis metal band, a band that blends the groovy, rock-a-billy attitude from around the mid 1900's with more modern metal. It is a big gumbo of different styles that makes Volbeat who they are, which has always been my main grief with the band, but because they are one of the groups that is going to open up for Black Sabbath later this summer in Stockholm (a concert I will attend), I thought that I might as well give the band another chance to convince me.

"Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie" is album number six for the band, and expectations wise, I prepared myself for another diverse experience in which I would like some songs and just flat out hate others. As it turns out, I was completely right. The album is filled with songs that appeal to the greater mass, being catchy, groovy, and soft enough to not scare off too many listeners. It is also a album that stays very true to what Volbeat has done in the past, not cramming in any new elements that steer them off from the current path that they are on, in other words, a pretty safe effort.

A major disappointment that I have with the album is the overall lack of metal in it. Yes, I know that the Elvis part is the ones they focus the most attention to, but they have always brought out a couple of songs that are straight up metal, like "Room 24" and "A Warrior's Call" (my two favourite songs from the band by the way). This disappointment gets even bigger considering two factors. 1. They got a new guitarist a couple of years ago, former Anthrax member Rob Caggiano, whom I thought would make the band heavier, and 2. their last album, "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies", was quite heavy. Frankly, the only heavy songs here are "The Loa's Crossroad" and the one minute song "Slaytan". The history, and the fancy album cover promised a good punch, but fails to deliver it.

The song quality is quite decent, containing a ton of catchy material that will make the fans sing their lungs out, but I cannot help but feeling that I have heard this from the band before. It might be because Michael Poulsen has his own unique song style and that he wants to sing in a certain way that makes the songs sound the same, but it still bugs me, none the less. The band tries to change things up a bit here and there, like singing in Danish on "For Evigt", putting some oriental flare in "The Gates of Babylon", and adding two guest artists, Johan Gotthard Olsen on "For Evigt" and Danko Jones on "Black Rose", but it does not help all that much.

Both "For Evigt" and "Black Rose" are highlights of the album, and the same goes for "The Devil's Bleeding Crown" and its incredibly groovy opening riff that just crushes. The chorus is kind of lack luster though, but I do not mind it that much. "Seal The Deal" is another good song, although I think it is partially stolen from a small Swedish band called Devil's Train. Go and search for their song "Roll The Dice" and you will get my drift.

Finally, the bonus tracks are completely useless, serving no purpose at all, there is not even any unique songs. We got a fully English version of "For Evigt" called "The Bliss", "Black Rose" minus Danko Jones, and a live version of the opening track "The Devil's Bleeding Crown". Come on guys, if you gotta have bonus tracks in a album, don't use songs that are already in the album.

Volbeat continues to be that "metal, but not really" band that just makes me shiver, and while I can see why this band has become such a huge success throughout the world, I just cannot get into the hype. "Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie" is just another groovy effort that tries a little bit too hard to get that new hit, and it ends up making the album sound boring and stale. The album is enjoyable the first three times, but it becomes repetitive after that. Fans of the band will love it, but the album, and the band in general, is not for everyone. It will be interesting to see how they perform live though, maybe they can convince me that way.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Loa's Crossroad, The Devil's Bleeding Crown, Black Rose

Rating: 6/10 Slaytans

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