» Blog Archive Review: Volbeat Change Direction On New Album -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Streaming

Volbeat 2016It has been a rollercoaster the past fews years, as Volbeat have gone from being that wildcard opening band for Metallica to being a juggernaut in the metal and rock scenes across the world. By the time 2013’s Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies came out, Volbeat had already been incredibly successful, and by adding Anthrax’s Rob Caggiano and having King Diamond guest on one of their songs, there seemed to be nothing that was capable of stopping this band from taking off.

So that brings us to Volbeat’s most recent release, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie. It’s safe to assume that by this point, six albums in, that fans should be able to know what to expect from Volbeat, and that’s some trademark massive guitar tones, a James Hetfield-rockabilly vocal approach, and a wide array of catchy rock song and bone-crushing metal riffs.

Maybe less so on the bone-crushing riffs, however.

Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is no doubt a Volbeat album, but it should be known that it is lighter than previous releases. Almost like songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Michael Poulsen has taken notes from the more accessible moments from past Volbeat efforts, it seems he has intended to craft an entire album full of songs with a more rock-driven approach. Whether one takes this as a bad thing or a good one is certainly a matter of taste, but as a longtime Volbeat fan, it seems confusing, in a way, as to what changed what was not broken originally.

Still, it’s not negatively to remark on these qualities or the simpler, more straight-forward approach to the album with a unified sound. Volbeat display far more hard rock qualities on this release, but they are still distinctly Volbeat, which is a good thing nonetheless. Granted the title track is the heaviest on the standard edition on the album (The all-but too brief “Slaytan” on the deluxe edition takes the award otherwise) but that does not mean the album is without its higher points of enjoyment.

seal the deal and lets boogie“Black Rose” is immediately one of the stronger tracks, possibly due to the contribution from Danko Jones. His own voice and that of Poulsen’s mesh well together and the overall rock nature of the track does compliment them both extremely well. The album’s opening track and lead single, “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” also is edgier than the other songs present, but still stands as a great display of where Volbeat are currently, affirming that nobody should fear they’re going to change too drastically any time soon.

Almost traditionally, Volbeat have again included cover songs onto the album, keeping the sense of fun present among the plethora of original songs they always supply. (The standard edition comes with 13 tracks, clocking in over 50 minutes) Perhaps stealing the spotlight on Seal the Deal is their Georgia Satellites cover of “Battleship Chains.” The backing vocals and sheer size of the song contribute to a massive track, best resembling a battleship.

While everything seems to bode well for the band in their more conventional direction, the album itself is not without its drawbacks. For one, the album at times lacks dynamics at great periods of time and ends up just going forward with no highs or lows to be found. While the songs are good, no doubt, some are uneventful and could have used more varied songs to diversify the selection available. At one point, I believe on “Goodbye Forever,” it feels like the album is closing itself up, but continues on for four more songs. Even though “The Loa’s Crossroads” is a solid song, it does not wrap up 53 minutes of music triumphantly like an album should.

At the end of the day, though, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie should appeal to Volbeat fans and possibly expand their audience further. Granted the metal elements are missed and the album has a problem with dynamics in its track arrangement, the songs are generally rock solid and there are definitely some noteworthy ones to be found. It may be lighter and more accessible, but it’s still distinctly Volbeat, even if the band were already easy enough to enjoy as it was.


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