Volbeat’s unique style has always been a little difficult to fit into the confines of a preset musical genre.
Lead vocalist Michael Poulson’s love of all things Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, coupled with the obvious influences of hard rock, heavy metal, country, punk and Rockabilly, make for a Frankenstein of sound unlike anything else out there today.
Every album that Volbeat has released to date has been a winner and that winning streak continues with their latest offering, ‘Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies’.
With the permanent addition of producer and ex- Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano to the band, their newest effort delivers everything you’d expect from Volbeat and more. The powerhouse team of Bassist Anders Kjolholm and drummer John Larson are back, to add their signature clockwork rhythm assault to the mix.
The cherry on top of this smoking, lava-filled cupcake is Michael Poulson’s unmistakable voice. While you can clearly hear the influences of his Idols in his singing, most notably, Elvis and Metallica’s James Hetfield, it is in no way an imitation. It’s those influences, along with his natural, unforced delivery and a tone that can’t be faked, that elevates Poulson’s voice from mere imitation to something unique and special.
Volbeat has never apologized for their use of melody and catchy hooks to carry a song along. Those catchy melodies are what make “Lola Montez” and “Cape of Our Hero” two of the most radio friendly songs on this album. After only one or two listens they start to take up permanent residence in your head. Even some of the heavier offerings like “The Nameless One”, “Dead but Rising” and “The Hangman’s Body Count” make excellent use of those brilliant melodies that Michael Poulson is so good at writing.
”Room 24” is the band’s second collaboration with Danish Metal shock rocker King Diamond, and it’s a knockout! The track is full of doom, gloom, a healthy dose of vocal sparring between Diamond and Poulson and features some tasty guitar work from Caggiano. The band then rips through the fast paced “Black Bart”, with Kjolholm and Larson front and center driving the song, while Caggiano and Poulson steer with some impressive guitar work and vocals.
“Doc Holliday” is in my opinion, the standout song on this album. It starts off innocently enough with a relatively tame banjo tune and a good, steady beat. It quickly takes a 360 degree turn when Caggiano decides to grab hold and bite down hard, sinking his teeth into the back of this stampeding Mastodon of a song. He absolutely rampages through it, as do the rest of the band, and Poulson’s vocal delivery is flawless. “Ecotone” is pure Volbeat perfection and this song, along with the live offerings that show up on the deluxe version are worth seeking out. Their noteworthy cover of Young the Giant’s “My Body” is proof that sometimes covers are actually worth doing, and the hauntingly beautiful “Our Loved Ones” is a perfect ending to the album.
Not surprisingly, Volbeat has been immensely popular in their native Denmark and in Europe since they formed in 2000. It seems the metal and rock fans here in the US have been starting to catch up with the rest of the world regarding Volbeat in the last few years. If they keep producing albums like this one and continue to rock audiences with their must see, high energy shows, then there can only be bigger and better things on the horizon for them.