Let’s be honest, the last Volbeat album wasn’t their best. No, seriously. I was just getting into Volbeat when I heard it and it was hyped up to the heavens as if they’d reinvented the wheel. The Danes hadn’t. It was more Volbeat which is never a bad thing but a bit more radio-friendly. The leaps and bounds they made in venue size showed it worked in their favour and in fairness, it wasn’t bad by any stretch, it’s just…they’ve done better. Mainly the two preceding Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies: Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood and Beyond Hell/Above Heaven.
That’s where new album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie comes in. Volbeat haven’t changed up their sound significantly in six albums which works well for some bands and not so well for others. The same applies with slowly or drastically changing sound between albums. Seal the Deal… is very much like its predecessor, it’s a bit more reined in and there’s a radio-friendly gloss to it to the point where a few of the songs would feel at home on Outlaw Gentleman…
However, that’s about the only bad thing, if you can even call it bad. Volbeat have that distinctive sound that I’ve not heard in any other band be it contemporaries, influences or bands trying to mimic them. The only comparison you could get away with is Michael Poulsen’s Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash-esque vocals. But musically, nothing even sounds like it’s in the ballpark.
Kicking things off with “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”, it’s one of those Volbeat songs where you have to turn it up, stick it on repeat and blast down the motorway at top speed. And the breakdown…man, that breakdown is one of the best they’ve done and it’s the high point in an already great song.
One of the highlights has to be their stab at the Georgia Satellites song “Battleship Chains”. Now, don’t lie, I know you know this chorus word-perfect, it’s on every Dad Rocks CD ever made. And like their cover of “I Only Wanna Be With You” (again, don’t lie, you know the words, it’s an awesome version), it’s bloody awesome. Up until that first round of the chorus hits (at which point you’ll proceed to belt out the lyrics), you could swear this is another new track, such is the originality they’ve brought to it.
My own personal favourites have to be “Black Rose” (feautring Danko Jones on some vocals) with its high-octane riffs which were what drew me to the band in the first place and title track “Seal the Deal”. The latter of which is possibly the thrashiest song I’ve heard from Volbeat, clearly Rob Caggiano’s influence has grown and I’d love to hear more from them in this vein as it’s still easily identifiable as a Volbeat track. I could see this one being a new fan favourite, perhaps as an early track in a setlist or the first song of an encore.
Meanwhile “For Evigt”, entitled “The Bliss” for its English counterpart, feels like treading old ground, eerily similar to “Lola Montez” and up to a point, I can see the logic. It was wildly successful as a single, albeit I’m not a fan of it. They’re trying to recapture the lightning in the bottle from lyrical content to song structure and sound. It could well be it was left on the cutting room floor from the last album or the band decided to revisit it.
I’ll never complain about getting a new Volbeat album because they’ve never turned in a shoddy album. The polish on this one is remarkable and there’s a sense of the band upping their game. Caggiano is at his best with songs like “You Will Know” as Michael Poulsen weaves around his lead licks. The former Anthrax axe-wielder has a prevalent influence on here but he also understands Volbeat’s unique sound and he’s breathed new life into the band whilst ensuring that any of these songs could be labelled as “classic Volbeat”.
A year away has benefitted Volbeat massively. There’s a fresh energy around Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie and the band have clearly written songs with bigger audiences in mind. Some of the songs on here are going to be massive. Admittedly after an initial listen, I wasn’t bowled over but it’s gotten under my skin and I’ve currently got it on constant repeat. There’s a sense of triumph here, the band know they have a good album on their hands. Now, let’s have a repeat of that awesome Barrowlands show and all will be right in the world.
Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is released 3rd June