VOLBEAT have always been a curious beast of a band. Formed fifteen years ago in Copenhagen, the Danish-American quartet have made a name for themselves through producing a style of music quite unlike any other. Fusing the traditional metal riffing of acts like METALLICA to a country sensibility akin to the likes of JOHNNY CASH, the band have been gradually carving out their own niche within the rock scene since their inception and have now reached their sixth album, entitled Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie.
From the first few notes of opener The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, it’s obvious that this is VOLBEAT at their most accessible – Michael Poulsen’s unique-sounding voice booming over a crunchy guitar riff. It’s a formula that all VOLBEAT fans should be used to by now, given the more radio-friendly orientation of their last two albums, but one that clearly works well for the band.
In fact, there’s a lot of moments that hark back to the band’s previous albums on Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie – second single For Evigt (replaced by The Bliss on US copies) evokes memories of the band’s 2013 mega-hit Lola Montez in a major way, whilst Let It Burn has a touch of Pearl Hart about it. There’s a lot more bite to the songs this time round though – with songs like title-track Seal The Deal packing some serious riffs to match their choruses.
The band’s more melodic side does get ample chance to show itself though. The Gates Of Babylon chugs along at first with a fairly typical riff, before bursting into one of the most anthemic choruses VOLBEAT have ever committed to record. It’s not alone though – others like You Will Know seem to be almost entirely comprised of colossal-sounding choruses, broken up only by melodic solos from lead guitarist, and former ANTHRAX axeman, Rob Caggiano.
Lyrically, Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie takes another direction from previous VOLBEAT efforts – abandoning the 19th century outlaws and gunslingers theme in favour of more supernatural elements like voodoo, spirits, the Devil and even Jack The Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly. Whilst you might assume some of this could come off as cheesy, Poulsen’s heartfelt delivery ensures that everything stays on the right side of serious, and the final result is deeply impressive.
Also new for the band is the inclusion of not one, but two cover songs across the album. The first of these, Rebound was originally by American punk rockers TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET, and serves as a tribute to their former drummer Brandon Carlisle, who died while VOLBEAT were in the studio. At a touch under two and a half minutes long, it’s the shortest track on Seal The Deal… but one that shows a totally different side to VOLBEAT – more in the vein of acts like THE MISFITS, albeit with a much lighter feel. The second cover song is Battleship Chains, a southern-rock flavoured track from 80s rockers THE GEORGIA SATELLITES. This one is a far cheesier affair, with a proper sing-along chorus and very little else in the way of substance. Again, it’s different to what fans might be used to from VOLBEAT, but it’s catchy enough to be either enjoyable or annoying after several listens.
On the whole, it’s difficult to argue that Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie is much other than VOLBEAT’S most straightforward effort yet. Rather than completely reinvent their sound, the band have instead chosen to refine what they are good at. Embracing a brighter guitar tone and larger, more anthemic choruses than ever before, they have not only produced an effort worthy of their previous back-catalogue, but one that can comfortably stand as one of their best records yet. Taking the more mainstream-oriented songwriting and sound of their previous effort and fusing it with the harder edge of their old records has clearly proved an impressive combination for VOLBEAT, and it’ll be interesting to see where the band go next.
Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie is out now via Republic Records
Like VOLBEAT on Facebook