Continuing on from last year, my new year’s resolution once again is to expand the breadth of my musical knowledge and experience. As with last year, I’m listening to the discography of a different band each month.
This is my entry for January 2017.
My previous entry saw me take a look at proggy retro rockers Bigelf.
This time around I’ve gone for Danish rockabilly loving heavy metallers, Volbeat.
Background: I’ve been aware of them for a while (they are huge on mainland Europe and often play towards the top of the bill) , but never actively tracked down their stuff. I’ve heard their cover of I Only Want To Be With You before, and a couple of their later singles.
– The Strength/The Sound/The Songs
Their 2005 debut opens up with the solid Caroline Leaving, which leads into the vastly superior Another Day, Another Way. The latter’s main riff reminds me of No Doubt’s Hella Good, in a good way. After the decent Something Else Or…. there is a trio belters in the form of Rebel Monster, Pool of Booze, Booze, Booze and Always.Wu. Each of them is contemporary heavy metal, but with a slightly different twist (Pool… for example, sounds almost stoner metal, whereas Always… has some speed / trad metal elements). Say Your Number is good, and the pseudo-ballad Soulweeper is a cracking tune! Fire Song feels like a bit of a filler, and Danny & Lucy gets better as it goes along. Caroline #1 is another track with stoner rock vibes, and really sodding good! Alienized is fine, but is a nice buffer between Caroline #1 and the excellent Dusty Springgield cover, I Only Want To Be With You. The closing double are good in their own ways – Everything’s Still Fine has a tasty mid-paced chugging riff, plus a nice Kasmir-era Zeppelin eastern sounding guitar flourish every now and then. Healing Subconsciously has a warmer guitar sound. Song itself is a rousing, upbeat and triumpant one – a really good closer.
A really flipping good debut album. Plenty of catchy tracks throughout, and – while there is a sort of signature sound in each song – there’s a nice variety within than scope. It keeps everything fresh.
Best tracks: Soulweeper, Caroline #1, I Only Wanna Be With You.
Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil
The 2007 follow-up has a decent opening track in The Human Instrument, featuring a nice guitar sound that’s halfway between Floydian and country/western. Mr. & Mrs. Ness sounds like something from the early 90s – like a mid-paced Megadeth intro, or a heavier Queensryche track. The Garden’s Tale has a calmer intro, before kicking into a track thats almost pop punk. This makes sense considering the guest musician is from post-punk band Magtens Korridor. This is one of the best things they’ve put out so far. Devil or the Blue Cat’s Song feels like a slight comedown after the previous quality of what preceeded it, but would probably be a good track elsewhere on the album. Sad Man’s Tongue has a nice banjo led intro and a very southern US vibe to the whole thing. Not a bad track. River Queen is a bit of a grower, but Radio Girl and A Moment Forever aren’t anything memorable. Soulweeper #2 is a cracking slower to mid-paced, more sombre piece. Juxtaposing You or Them with the previous track is neat, as it makes this seem heavier than it is . A really catchy track. Boa (JDM) is a decent closing track, if nothing special.
A good follow-up, if one that doesn’t blow me away. There’s some really cool tracks here, but – for a relatively short album – there’s a bit too much that’s just decent filler.
Best Tracks: The Garden’s Tale, Soulweeper #2, You or Them.
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
After a plesant intro, the title track kicks in. It’s a really catchy tune/chorus and screams ‘single’. This flows into the pop-punky sounding Back to Prom, and things gets a smidge heavier with Mary Ann’s Place. By this point, all the tracks have had cracking intros anfd been pretty sweet. Hallelujah Goat is a little less memorable than that which went before, but still pretty good. Maybellene I Hofteholder uses the typical ‘slow things down before hitting you with a punchy punky riff’ intro – and does it well. Good track. We is more of the same, and similarly good. The next few tracks are all ‘pretty good’, before the really good cover of Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonely I Could Cry. A Broken Man and the Dawn starts well, but sort of a peters out. Find that Soul is a pretty good album track, before another good cover (of Jimmy Work’s Making Believe) closes things out.
Probably the middle ground, quality wise, in the releases so far. First half is pretty damned good, but the back half is a bit hit and miss.
Best tracks: Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood, Back to Prom, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.
Beyond Hell / Above Heaven
The Mirror and the Ripper is a solid opener, which makes way for up-tempo pseudo-ballad Heaven Nor Hell. Who They Are has a deliciously malovolent riff that wouldn’t be amiss on a Ghost album. Once things kick in, it sounds like a contemporary metal track as on their earlier albums. It’s good stuff. Fallen and A Better Believer are fine, but 7 Shots is really good! It features guest lead guitar (Michael Denner from Mercyful Fate/King Diamond) and guest secondary vocals (Mille Petrozza from Kreator). It’s not as heavy as the inclusion of those musicians may imply, but it’s heavier than the previous tracks on the album. Nonetheless, its areally catchy tune that utulises them both well. A New Day is fine, but 16 Dollars is better. The latter is closer to a rockabilly / old school rock n roll sound, making it sound somewhat fresh with where it’s placed on the album. A very likeable tune. A Warrior’s Call is fascinating – it’s a song about, and as a tribute to, Danish boxer Mikkel Kessler. It’s got a nice punchy fists-in-the-air sort of chorus, and it’s really catchy! Magic Zone is an upbeat tune that makes user of a warmer guitar tone for the intro, and has a punchy main riff. Evelyn is a fair whack heavier, and features thier first track with growling vocals, courtesy of Barney from Napalm Death. I’ve never been a fan, and this didn’t do much for me. Being 1 changes the tone once more. It’s a short song (a little over two minutes) and feels like it’s made to be the first part of a medley. Thanks is an actual song thanking their fans for their support over the year. Despite how cheesy this sounds in concept, it’s actually quite a memorable tune, and would work in tandem with Being 1 as a sort of medley to close out a concert.
A pretty strong album, probably on a part with their previous release. Though there aren’t many outright killer tunes, there’s very little filler.
Best tracks: 7 Shots, 16 Dollars and a Warrior’s Call.
Outlaw Gentlement & Shady Ladies
A collection of acoustic/Spanish guitars, a harp and a mouth organs/harmonica combine to set the western scene in the tro track Let’s Shake Some Dust. The next next couple of track are simply decent, despite some nice guitar work. Dead But Rising is a bit heavier and a bit better. Cape of Our Hero is one of the few tracks I’d heard previously, and this is where the album properly kicks off – a pretty great track! Room 24 has a sort of a horror vibe to it, which makes sense with Kind Diamond on guest vocals. A really good heavy metal tune. The Hangman’s Body Count was the second single released from the album, and you can tell why on one play. The lone blip on the back half of the album is the forgettable My Body. Lola Montez is another track I’ve heard before, but I’m not sure where – maybe a club? It’s one of the better tracks on the album – in fact, it may be one of the tracks I’ve enjoyed the most so far. Black Bart is a good, up-tempo track. Lonesome Rider features guest vocals from Sarah Blackwood (of Dubstar fame). She adds a pleasant extra dimension. The song itself has a the vibe of a single from a film’s soundtrack. Really good stuff. The Sinner Is You grows into a really catchy tune with a memorable chorus. Doc Holliday is a bit heavier and the better type of album track. Our Loved Ones is a strong, epic osunding finale.
From Cape of Our Hero onwards, it’s a really good album and the closest they’ve come to replicating the quslity of their debut to date.
Best tracks: Cape of Our Hero, Room 24, The Hangman’s Body Count, Lonesome Rider.
Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie
Prodecings are started with their best opening track to date, The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. Parts of it remind me of the stoner rock/metal vibe of Poole of Booze, Booze, Booze and Caroline #1. Marie Laveau reminds me of one of their previous songs, but I can’t place which. It’s a solid track, either way. For Evigt features Johan Olsen from Magtens Korridor. It’s a bit of a grower, and better than the previous song. The next couple of tracks (The Gates of Babylon and Let Ir Burn) are fine, but would be lost in the mix on the better albums I think. Black Rose features Danko Jones and is a definite step up on the previous tracks. Rebound is a cover of punk band Teenage Bottlerocket. Unlike their previous covers, it doesn’t overly stand out, though still decent. Mary Jane Kelly is somewhat better. Goodbye Forever slows things down a nudge, before Seal the Deal ramps things back up (the former is solid, the latter pretty darn good). Battleship Chains is a cover of The Woods’ song (made famous by The Georgia Satellites). It’s a really good cover of one of my favourite songs. I’m undecided on You Will Know – future listens will determine whether it is a grower, or just a decent album track. The standard edition closes with The Loa’s Crossroad. The intro riff is really cool, punchy and kick ass. Song itself is solid, with a nice – random – bagpipe solo in the middle!
A step down from Outlaw Gentlemen but still a good album. There’s a little too mych that’s just decent filler for me to rate it any higher.
Best tracks: The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, Seal the Deal, Battleship Chains.
And that’s that. I’ve really enjoyed this particular listen through. Over the ix albums, there’s some cracking tunes, and no single album is less than good.