VOLBEAT – ROCK THE REBEL / METAL THE DEVIL (MASCOT 2007)

REVIEW BY KASSU KORTELAINEN / MARCH 2007

It takes maybe a split second until it hits you that these guys from Denmark aren’t exactly your typical thirteen-in-a-dozen metal group and their new release “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil” isn’t your typical metal album. During the first thirty seconds of the opening track “The Human Instrument” you get greeted by some heavy riffing, a pounding drumbeat you could march to, and a lone steel guitar to start the whole show. And that’s before the lyrics even kick in – in which point you could well be overcome by an eerie feeling that all those conspiracy theories about Elvis Presley still walking amongst us might just be true and the king of rock’n’roll has made a comeback with some leather and spikes added to his suede shoes. Nope, indeed not your typical metal group at all.

Even though they’ve released a full length album “The Strength/The Sound/The Songs” back in 2005, this is the first time I even heard of Volbeat. And apparently I’m not the only one left in the shade, it seems as the band is only just breaking through to the bigger venues. And judging by this album, they well deserve to.

Like the album title points out in an overly obvious way, Volbeat’s music is a mixture of old time rock’n’roll and modern kind of heavy metal. But that’s just describing it very roughly, going deeper inside one can hear echoes from very various music styles. Metal and rock’n’roll are the most dominant ones, but there’s also a bit of punk, a slice of stoner rock, a dose of thrash, a trifle of country… quite a handful of various undertones really. To be quite honest, all that kinda elements thrown in together could’ve easily resulted in a horrible failure, but as can be heard on this album – Volbeat has pulled it off with flying colours. And in the process they have created a style that is in it’s uniqueness extremely invigorating and interesting.

Besides the golden rock’n’roll oldies, the most obvious comparison point amongst other bands would probably be Danzig, but even then Volbeat sounds quite different, namely in importing much heavier and modern metal elements into the ‘Elvis sound’. Volbeat’s guitarwork, at it heavier moments weighs in a very similar chunkyness of bands such as Corrosion Of Conformity or even Black Label Society. Sure, the songs on “Rock The Rebel…” have often been built around melodies and arrangements similar to those already used way back in the 50’s, but when delivered in a much heavier way it all sounds fresh.

A few cool picks from the album would include “The Garden’s Tale” that could be described as the hit of the lot. Featuring some nice mix of acoustic & electric guitars and hook-laden melodies “The Garden’s Tale” chops off with punky verses that switch smoothly into emotional sounding, wailing choruses and onto nicely chomping riffs. An excellent tune. Album closer “Boa (JDM)” on the other hand is a good example of a different approach; a metallic pounder that proceeds with a stoner kinda groove and heavy, doomy guitars while the singer Michael Poulsen spits out the stuttering lyrics. Ends the album with class. In addition there’s for instance “Sad Man’s Tongue” which of all the songs underlines the Elvis-aspect of the band most suitably (or Johnny Cash to whom the song is dedicated to). Or “Soulweeper #2” that despite it’s heavy guitars grows into a beautiful melodic piece that with a lighter arrangements could’ve well been a hit from some 60’s pop group.

Taking something old and dragging it through a proper metal treatment has resulted into creating a very original sound in today’s metal scene. Volbeat paves a good foundation for future success with “Rock The Rebel/Metal The Devil”. Anyone willing to try out something a bit different, could well be very pleasantly surprised with these guys. I know I am.

5k

1. The Human Instrument
2. Mr & Mrs Ness
3. The Garden’s Tale
4. Devil Or The Blue Cat’s Song
5. Sad Man’s Tongue
6. River Queen
7. Radio Girl
8. A Moment Forever
9. Soulweeper #2
10. You Or Them
11. Boa (Jdm)

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About Kassu Kortelainen