Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie

Written by: AP on 26/08/2017 18:11:38

Rising from the dingiest basement venues to headlining the national stadium of Denmark as the first domestic band ever and doing so within the span of a single decade, is an astonishing feat. It speaks volumes about the kind of mass appeal that Volbeat tapped into with their storming 2005-début, “The Strength, The Sound, The Songs”, and then perfected on its successor, 2007's “Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil”. The quartet struck a gold vein by fusing heavy and groove metal with the ‘60s rock’n’roll, country & rockabilly of frontman Michael Poulsen’s two greatest idols, Elvis and Johnny Cash — and with the voice, riffs and panache needed to tame arenas, it soon became inevitable that Volbeat would grow to be Denmark’s prime musical export and indeed one of the biggest rock/metal bands in the world. The next three albums did not earn the same level of critical acclaim to be sure as the music began to stagnate and the Cash/Elvis ‘gimmick’ lost its novelty, but even so the band’s popularity continued to skyrocket, with most fans perfectly happy with the deluge of recycled anthems and mass sing-songs pouring out of those records — the most recent of which was the 2013-outing “Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies”.

This latest addition to Volbeat’s repertoire, “Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie”, continues in the same vein, catering mostly to the casual listening segment that prefers the comfort of familiarity over new ideas and daring inroads. The potency of its thirteen tracks in terms of roaring over crowds tens of thousands strong is thus never in question, with the likes of “For evigt”, “Let It Burn” and “Goodbye Forever” stumbling over one another to deliver the most electrifying chorus. As ever, the power of Poulsen’s singing and the unique way in which he modulates his voice is at the forefront of imbuing those songs with lasting value and leaving the easily impressed listener swooning. But as the radio darling, “For evigt”, so clearly underlines, much of the record amounts to simply milking the cow of past successes. Almost a replica of Volbeat’s cherished ballad, “The Garden’s Tale”, the song invites Johan Olsen (of Magtens Korridorer) to reprise his cameo by once again lending a voice to the chorus and singing it entirely in his native tongue. The result is neither better nor worse, but it does let off an air of mindless repetition, as if the last shreds of inspiration had been drained from Volbeat’s mind.

One of the most pressing issues with “Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie”, however, is the complete absence of smash hits à la “Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza”, “Radio Girl” and “Maybellene i hofteholder” that garnished the band’s records from 2005 to 2008. Most of the songs have no trouble serving up memorabilia but those that truly make an impact are at a premium. Only when lead guitarist Rob Caggiano really embraces the ‘80s heavy metal histrionics in the opening track “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and the ripping “Seal the Deal” later on, does one sense a semblance of edge in the music, which then begs the question: why must Caggiano so often resign himself to churning out the simplest and basest of chords instead of letting loose the swagger of his Anthrax days? As evidenced by those two songs as well as the cover of Georgia Satellites’ “Battleship Chains”, the deployment of slick riffs and guitar solos does wonders to the overall attitude of Volbeat’s music — and without compromising any of the catchiness that Poulsen & co. strive for.

When push comes to shove then, “Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie” dutifully serves its purpose of delivering what the majority of Volbeat’s fanbase today wants and expects. But the people, including yours truly, who have other demands than being able to raise a pint and belt out clichéd, easily remembered lyrics next to throngs of other people, are unlikely to find much to get excited about here. All hope is not lost; Volbeat simply needs to manage its assets to the maximum benefit, which includes affording Caggiano the opportunities to sprinkle some spice onto the arena bangers and generally not shying away from everything that makes rock’n’roll badass, edgy and fun just to fit the radio format.


Download: The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, Seal the Deal, Battleship Chains
For the fans of: Fozzy, Johnny Cash, Metallica, Skid Row
Listen: Facebook

Release date 03.06.2016
Vertigo Records

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