Written by Gareth Franklin
I’ll start this review with a confession – one that I’ll whisper. I’ve never heard of Volbeat. In fact, if you’d asked me last week what I knew about them, I’d probably have looked at you with a strange expression and asked why you were asking me about Pokemon.
Album Title: Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie
Release Date: 03 June 2016
Label: Universal Music
- The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
- Marie Laveau
- The Bliss
- The Gates of Babylon
- Let It Burn
- Black Rose (feat. Danko Jones)
- Mary Jane Kelly
- Goodbye Forever
- Seal the Deal
- Battleship Chains
- You Will Know
- The Loa’s Crossroad
As it is, I now know how wrong I was. This is a band with a cracking back catalogue and, by all accounts, a pretty huge following. With 2013’s Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies going Platinum in three countries, and Gold in a further four, I’m slightly surprised that I’ve never heard of these guys before.
Then again, less than a minute into the opening track, “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” they felt reassuringly familiar. While I was going to be pretty much assured of great music, I wasn’t going to be in for any strange, unnerving surprises. Other than the fact that this track was the opener. This track is so energetic, so ‘fists-in-the-air’, that it is almost guaranteed to be a crowd anthem, that one song (among many, many others) that gets everyone bouncing.
“Marie Laveau” keeps the guitar a-galloping, with a thumping drumbeat in the background. After listening to these two back-to-back, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d listened to an entire album already – In the best possible way. These two songs are at once immersive and yet…not. You could lose hours listening to this album closely, listening to the lyrics, the stories. Alternatively, you could have this on in the background while you’re baking a cake (as you do).
“For Evigt” feels really atmospheric – it almost feels like you’re looking through a window at the past. I don’t know if it was Volbeat’s intention, but I bizarrely have the image of a warrior heading off to battle, and doing it for his significant other. I’m not even convinced that that’s the story being told by the lyrics (and I listened a few times – this is my favourite track on the album).
“The Gates of Babylon” is more of the same – the guitar on this album is nothing short of exceptional. The singing isn’t far behind either. This is clearly a band who know what they’re doing, and know how to do it well. This is yet another singalong (for want of a better word) great that won’t sound out of place on their tour this year. Or any other year in fact.
The anthems keep on coming with “Let It Burn,” which is more of the same. But in a very good way. Like adding bacon to more bacon is a very good thing. The only difference is that this one isn’t quite as heavy as its predecessors.
“Black Rose” reminds me of…something. I genuinely can’t put my finger on what it is, but there is definitely a good influence in here. This is another rollicking good song.
I can see “Rebound” being one of those songs that can be used to open a set – or perhaps an encore set. Either way, the intro is pretty much tailor-made for crowd interaction. Get the crowd clapping along, then bring out some cracking guitars and memorable lyrics, and literally nothing could go wrong.
When I read the title for the next song, I genuinely thought “well, this might be a ballad…maybe”. Well, with a title like “Mary Jane Kelly,” I think I could be forgiven. By the way…I was wrong. This ain’t no ballad. It’s more of the same, awesome same.
Surely the next song, with it’s incredibly optimistic title “Goodbye Forever” will be a bit ballady. Yes, I like the odd ballad. Well…it’s not. Not really. It’s closer to a ballad than anything we’ve heard so far on here though. And with lyrics like “we are the spirit forevermore,” I guess it could count. Still, it’s a great song.
“Seal the Deal” moves us back the other direction, and then some. This is fast like Motorhead, sounds a bit Judas Priest-y, and is all round fantastic. This song probably features the best guitar work on the entire album, and is the sort of song you’d secretly love Radio 2 to play during the ‘Doctor Mosh’ segment.
Alas, “Battleship Chains” isn’t about a fetishised-version of that boardgame, but it’s a great song nonetheless. In fact, it’s probably a good thing it isn’t about that. Mostly because that would be weird. But this is another song that would encourage crowd participation, this time because it’s so inherently ‘singalongableto.’ Yep, I made up that word. But it works here. This is a cover of a song originally written by Terry Anderson and The Woods, and made famous by The Georgia Satellites.
“You Will Know” starts off like a lighters-in-the-air song, which is a good thing. Though by this stage, you’ll likely be so exhausted air-guitaring that you won’t be able to lift the lighter above your head. Luckily, the lighters are quickly removed and replaced by, you guessed it, some top-notch air-guitaring-ness. And it’s only here that you realise something. While most of these songs have been similar in their general concept (great guitar work, pounding drums and great vocals), none of them sound the same. Which, on track twelve of a thirteen track album, is no mean feat.
We round off this album with a great-titled track – “The Loa’s Crossroad” (which I initially read as The Loa’s Crossword…). Luckily, this track doesn’t let down its title – it’s even more great guitar, great drums, great vocals and great…greatness. This is a seriously good song rounding off a seriously good album. Also…it has bagpipes. I’m convinced I heard bagpipes. But they didn’t sound out of place at all…in fact, they made the song.
If I’ve learned one thing from reviewing this album, it’s not to be scared of unknown music. I’ve had a bit of an idea of what to expect from every other album I’ve reviewed, but this was a real step into the unknown for me. But what a first step. Time to hunt me out their back catalogue.