About 3 weeks ago I put on a pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn for many months and found a £10 note in the back pocket that I didn’t know I had. This is one of those moments when the gods of karma took some time out from throwing curve balls at me and therefore a sense of satisfaction washed over me as their backs were temporarily turned.A small piece of radiant joy was allowed into my life which lasted right up to the time when I spend it. And even after I had spent it, that warm, fuzzy, happy feeling still lingered around like the smell of an expensive perfume as I enjoyed my “free” pint as well as well as the process of buying a lotto ticket. While In the queue to buy the ticket, I was already planning what I was going to buy with my jackpot win and and even what treats I would get for family and friends such as cars and nice holidays and by the time I got to the front of the line I had even planned what I’d wear to the Aston Martin showroom when picking up my new DB9. Sadly the Karma gods turned their attention back in my direction, and at the precise moment that I told the cashier that I wanted a lucky dip ticket,the lotto machine decided to spew out the worst 6 numbers in the history of lotto. Still, as Monty Python once famously said I decided to look on the bright side of life and still believing myself to be in possession of free money I went home and logged onto ITunes to see if the were any new albums I wanted to buy. It was while I was searching through the lists that I remembered that I had some change left over from a voucher that my kids had got me for my birthday a few weeks ago and after just a few moments my attention was drawn to the most recent album by Volbeat which was released earlier this year.
I was first introduced to Volbeat a year or so ago when from out of nowhere Cally downloaded the song “A warriors call” and played it a few days running in the car on the way to work. I won’t lie, whilst I liked the song and thought that it was good, it didn’t really register much of a high score on my musical wowometer and although I too downloaded it, it rarely if at all got played either at home or in the car. Then,a few months ago at download 2013 we noticed that they were playing the zippo encore stage on the first day and although we had to endure “Europe” in order to get a good spot in the crowd, we were perfectly placed by the time they came on. My only complaint about their set that day was that it was over far too quickly. Fresh from seeing that show we got our tickets for their concert at the Brixton Academy so I thought it might be a good idea to use some of the money on my voucher to download their newest cd and the one that they are currently touring, namely “Outlaw gentlemen and shady ladies” and it has to be said that with the exception of my recent trip to Rome, I’ve not stopped listening to it and more to the point, when I haven’t being listening to it I’ve been missing it something rotten so the time has come to actually tell you exactly what I think of it.
Wikipedia list Volbeats influences as a cross between rock n roll, rockabilly and heavy metal which is totally spot on. It also lists another influence as schlager music which I must confess to knowing nothing about except to say that when I googled it it basically seems to be a kind of Scandinavian folk music centred around sweet love songs and a melancholy sound, which is again spot on as here we have a record which in some places is heavy enough to not sound sound out of place on some of the mid 80’s albums from Metallica but delivered with a classy, melodic and powerful style which is dripping with melody. The opening track is an acoustic almost flamenco mood setter which actually does little to tip you off about what’s still to come except that it sets the tone for the harmonious 55 minutes that’s still to come. First track proper is ‘pearl hart’ which DOES set the tone for the album as within 20 seconds this song tells you everything you need to know about the rest of the album. If I overuse the words melodic,heavy and classy during this review then please forgive me but it does have to be said that this song is dripping with all three and isn’t even the best track on the album. ‘The nameless one’ is next up and picks up where pearl hart left off with power chords a plenty. What you notice fairly on with this band is that although it’s not a revolutionary sound that they have got, they certainly do have a distinctive sounding lead vocalist in Michael Poulsen. His effortless vocal style draws you into the songs with an almost haunting quality. ‘Dead but rising’ is up next and is one of the two most ‘Metal’ songs on the album and a great big heavy slab of metal it is too. like the rest of the songs, it seems to change direction throughout the three and a half minutes that it lasts you start from a metal sound and end up in a rock n roll middle and climax.
The chances of turning on a radio and hearing any of these songs is slightly less than bugger all which is a crime worthy of a reconstruction on crimewatch which given that what volbeat have managed to do here, is produce a record which mainstream radio as well as the music tv channels could play on rotation. Given that at least three songs here are so radio friendly, enough to be played and yet systematically ignored,annoys me to my core and these songs are ‘Cape of our hero’ ‘My body’ and my personal favourite ‘ Lola Montez’. Or do I like ‘My body’ the most? Oh I don’t know. Picking a favourite song from these three is is a bit like being asked to decide which of my children I like the most. Please please please do not just take my word for it, download one of these three songs and see for yourself. You owe it to yourself to do so, you need a bit of this album in your life. Part rock,part metal and with a rich melody,these are the three stand out songs which deserve better than being hidden away in the middle of the record, just don’t expect it to hear them anytime soon on a radio. ‘Room24’ is back to the metal theme and in parts would be as at home on a 90’s Megadeth album as it is on this record. Featuring, as it does, searing operatic vocals as well as a heavy yet melodic rhythm throughout and in fact this is probably the most metal section of the whole album as ‘The hangmans body count’ will make you want to start a circle pit in your living room/train/car depending on where you’re listening to it. These songs follow Volbeats blueprint of alternating between slow and moody and on to powerful and fast, and If you’re sweating buckets from the moshing and running around,pray to god that they don’t follow it up with ‘Black Bart’ because that’ll be a whole 10 minutes of lunacy for you to absorb.
There are many light and shade moments here. It’s not just a fist pumping, heavy metal record, it’s also a rock record, and a rock n roll record too. Its the kind of album that rewards you for getting into rock in the first place. Rock fans are often derided for their tastes but this is a record that we can stick under the noses of those that sneer and show them what they’re missing. Although numbered in their millions, metal fans are still massively out numbered by their musical counterparts who regard us as being a bit odd or brainless but this is an album of high quality and intelligence that should prove them all wrong. This album should be a standard bearer for the genre, it should be held aloft as an example of what a group of four rock musicians can produce. Normally I’d be wanting to keep it quiet and keep it just for us, but actually it deserves more than that. It deserves to be raved about and hopefully this come across in what I’m saying. This deserves to have a much bigger audience and exposure to a mainstream audience, who like me need a bit of Volbeat in their lives. Unlike the £10 note that I found in my pocket which gave me a few hours of satisfaction, this album is going to give me a lifetime of enjoyment. It’s too early to say stuff like “It’s in my all time top 10 records” because there should be a 5 year wait before any album could be considered for such an accolade but I very much expect that it will be. So after finishing reading this, open up your iTunes, spotify or whatever platform you use for listening and downloading and do the following. Listen to and then buy ‘Lola Montez’.If you don’t like it then not only is there something wrong with you, but also thank you for reading up to this point but goodbye and see you next time. If however you like it, move on and buy ‘My Body’ and then message me saying thank you. Then buy the album, it’s called ‘Outlaw gentlemen and shady ladies’.Simple as that. It will set you back about £10 but you don’t wait until you find a tenner in an old pair of jeans before doing so. So do it now. You’ll thank me for it.