You know an album is good when you listen to it every day for an entire month. I had not been a Volbeat fan up until this point, but early this summer I had caught them at Download Festival between bands that I did know. They played a song that was introduced as being ‘about a shady lady called Lola‘ and it really struck a chord with me. Not least because the guitar solo, played by former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano reminded me of Anthrax‘s ‘Safe Home’ which is a song that I love so much I had it played at my wedding.
If you aren’t too familiar with them either, the simplified description you hear bandied about is that they are supposedly a mixture of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Danzig and Metallica. I mean, that is what people say but obviously the reality won’t be exactly what people say as it never is with these things, but that is the kind of thing people say about them and gets you in the right head-space of roughly what to expect.
This is my first Volbeat album; and normally before reviewing a record I’d know a lot more about the band first, have a lot more research, know more of the discography, but I have been absolutely hammering this every day all month, and I can’t really wait to spooge my approval of it all over the internet.
Now; because I have some kind of obsession with ‘Lola Montez’ as you can guess from the above anecdote, I keep starting the album at track 9, as if that is the beginning. The song, a summery and anthemic Hard Rock tune about a historical dancer and her famed ‘spider dance;’ begins with some gentle chugging and a very melodic lead vocal. Any time I hear it I am instantly transported back to that field at Donnington. I find myself loudly singing ‘the love of your life, yeah-eah eah’ and ‘Lola’s spider daaaaaaa-aaaa-ance’ in the car every single time.
That is followed by ‘Black Bart’ which by contrast is almost a Speed Metal tune. It has the same talented melodic vocals but the guitar and drums are significantly stylistically different.
Speaking of different, this is again followed up with ‘Lonesome Rider’ which has a sort of country or rockabilly feel to it.There are guest vocals from Sarah Blackwood who gives it an even more country twang. Normally, I don’t like too much novelty in my music. Recently, bands like Ghost have helped me loosen up a bit and with how well Volbeat blend all their disparae styles it doesn’t feel like a novelty but just a fresh combination of elements.
The legendary King Diamond, who I’ve grown more accustomed to over the year since getting the boxset of his first five albums, shows up on the tack ‘Room 24’ as another guest star. The track is actually written in a style suitable for him and has the band playing darker, heavier and more bombastic stuff to fit in with the King’s unique style.
Other highlights include the enormously catchy groove metal song ‘Dead But Rising’ and the very stadium sized, Avenged Sevenfold-esque ‘The Nameless.’ (When he says ‘Six feet under and still alert,’ I get real Matt Shadows vibes).
It is a very varied album. It is a very interesting album and it is a very fun album. It is the kind of album you can listen to all the way through over and over again. It is remarkably polished and well produced. It is full of more hooks than a fisherman’s equipment store and it has some intriguing lyrics about genuine historicalcharacthers that may lead you on to further reading.
I can’t tell you how it compares to other Volbeat albums. Maybe it is their best, maybe it is their worst. I’ve got more coming my way in the future so I am happy to find out, but let me tell you this, as a first Volbeat album it is an absolute winner and it has totally sold me on this band hard. ‘Lola Montez’ is absolutely my song of the summer. If you don’t know them, I highly recommend you check them out. Maybe a bit of whoa-lbeat is just whats been missing in your music collection.