Here’s another review done a few weeks too late, but like every time I do that, it’s because I think the album is really worth writing about. This time it’s Volbeat‘s new album Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. Volbeat, one of today’s biggest metal bands, is the kind of band that couldn’t possibly release an album without having me share my opinion on it. Now on their sixth album, Volbeat show just how far they’ve come since going from a band who was only relatively popular in their home country of Denmark to turning heads while playing the opening bill on Metallica‘s 2009 world tour.
First I’d like to express my dismay that The Devil’s Bleeding Crown was selected as the first single from Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. I mean I get it, it’s a fast balls to the wall metal tune that can hit you right in the gut, and maybe it can get the attention of people who still haven’t heard of or embraced the band, but I’d have to say it’s the worst song on the album. It has nothing to it really other than its energy, which of course is an important factor, but Volbeat‘s main man Michael Poulsen has shown many times in the previous five albums that he can make some catchy melodies and write some good, yet simple instrumentation. The Devil’s Bleeding Crown sounds like what would be considered a filler on pretty much all previous albums. Yet it hit number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, so what do I know?
Rather, I think Volbeat should have released a different heavy and aggressive track as the leading single from Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. Maybe Black Rose (which I thought would be a Thin Lizzy cover but it isn’t) featuring guest vocalist Danko Jones. That song has a great drive to it while being catchy as hell. Or even the semi-title track Seal The Deal would have made for a solid first single. It has since been released as a single, but I’ve yet to hear it on the radio. Both of these songs can grab anyone’s attention instantly, but they have the staying power and catchiness that people won’t forget.
Actually, when I first listened to Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, I wasn’t convinced that it was one of Volbeat‘s better offerings. I mean I guess it was in part to the opening track, which I have already expressed a distaste for, because it really made my interest in the album lose momentum. It’s following track Marie Laveau is the kind of melodic heavy metal track I’d expect from Volbeat, but it didn’t quite lift my spirits up enough. The Bliss did though. It’s a very melodic and light hearted yet still solid and heavy track, like many Volbeat has made before. I feel the band has made better songs, but this song gave me hope for the rest of the album.
I thought The Gates Of Babylon could possibly have been a Rainbow cover. I mean Volbeat have surprised me in the past with covers that they’ve done. Once again I was wrong, but once again I was treated to a fine track from Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. Much like the Rainbow classic, it has a Middle Eastern influence in its music which I immediately took to, and at first listen it was my favourite song on the album. I’m not sure I’d still say it is, but it sure is one of them.
There are a couple of covers on Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie. Funny enough, when I saw the song title Battleship Chains, I thought there’s no way Volbeat would be covering a Georgia Satellites song, but I was pleased to find out I was wrong, and just like The Georgia Satellites before them, Volbeat perform this song like they’re playing it in some roadhouse out in the middle of nowhere to a bunch of drunk bikers ready to brawl. I don’t think they play the song better than The Georgia Satellites, but I do think they do it justice. The other cover, Rebound, originally by Teenage Bottlerocket is a song I was previously unfamiliar of, but it’s one of the finer tunes on the album. It’s one of, if the only tune on the album that shows Volbeat’s ability to blend a punk sound into their heavy metal style which is something that made them unique right from the start.
After a few listens, it was easy to hear that Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie did, after all, have some fantastic tracks to add to Volbeat‘s catalogue. Aside from the many great tunes already named are other great metal songs like Let It Burn, Mary Jane Kelly, Goodbye Forever, You Will Know and the incredible closing track The Loa’s Crossroad, all of which have great hooks to offer listeners. Missing from the album is the experimentation that Volbeat have done so many times in the past, like the blending of other influences into their thrash heavy metal sound. Their earliest albums had a lot of punk and 50’s/60’s rock ‘n’ roll sounds that made the band easily distinctive, and later as such experimentations became less common, they still had some country and bluegrass elements, as well as some unconventional instruments added to their conventional heavy metal arsenal. This time around, there are some bagpipes heard on The Loa’s Crossroad and some electric pedal steel on Mary Jane Kelly, but that’s about it. Still, they make the best with what they offer.
So, while initially a little disappointed with Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, my opinion has since turned completely around to the point where now I think this may be one of the top albums of 2016 as well as an indefinite highlight in Volbeat‘s career. It is perhaps the most consistently good album in their catalogue, as most of their previous albums have some mighty forgettable songs blended with some absolutely fantastic ones. Again, I can’t help but think of that time I saw them live opening for Metallica, hearing that asshole a few rows behind me yell out “you suck” during their set and hearing a few people laugh at him saying that. I shared this story when reviewing their previous album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, so read it here for better detail. But I can’t help but hope that guy remembers this bands name and sees just how far they’ve gone.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. unless you’re the biggest Volbeat fan in the world, don’t bother getting the deluxe version. There are four extra tracks: Slaytan, For Evigt, Black Rose (without Danko Jones) and The Devil’s Bleeding Crown (Live). I’m never really one for live or different versions of songs so I usually save my money, but seeing that there were two songs that didn’t appear on the initial album, I thought it would be worth the extra few bucks but Slaytan, while good and heavy, is only fifty-nine seconds in length, and For Evigt is The Bliss but with a few different words sung in the chorus. I wish I saved the $3 on that.
“Seal The Deal” – I’ve kind of stopped giving explanations towards my highlight choices, but I will say that I do wish people heard a song like this one first from the album. I’ve said some harsh things about The Devil’s Bleeding Crown that I’m sure many would disagree with, but I do believe that every tune on the album would have been a better choice, and I personally feel Seal The Deal, while not the album’s best, does have what a leading Volbeat single should have.
9 (Out of 10)
|1.||“The Devil’s Bleeding Crown”||3:56|
|4.||“The Gates of Babylon”||4:34|
|5.||“Let It Burn”||3:39|
|6.||“Black Rose” (featuring Danko Jones)||3:55|
|8.||“Mary Jane Kelly”||5:39|
|10.||“Seal the Deal”||4:09|
|12.||“You Will Know”||4:31|
|13.||“The Loa’s Crossroad”||4:21|