Volbeat - Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie$10.49
- Poulsen sounds more energetic than on the prior two albums
- Caggiano's lead guitar work
- The whole album is catchy as hell
- Song styles a bit disjointed
- Experienced listeners will pick out derivative segments
- Bonus tracks are mostly disposable
The genre-defying Danes in Volbeat have been going strong for nearly fifteen years. Now, Michael Poulsen and company are back with 2016’s Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.
Back in 2009, the highlight of my summer was Nightwish (at the time with Anette) coming to Louisville. Having been a fan of the band for years, I was excited to finally have them in the area. Little did I know, however, that while Nightwish put on a great show, it was the opening act who was going to impress me the most. Assuming you are a reasonably intelligent human, you’ve likely figured out that opening band was Volbeat. Their “metalbilly” take on music and the powerful voice of Michael Poulsen sold me instantly, and within an hour of arriving home that evening, their first three albums were in my Amazon shopping cart.
Volbeat’s next two outings, however, left me wanting. Frankly, I can’t name a single song off Beyond Heaven/Above Hell, and I can only think of the three stand-out tracks from Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies (Lola Montez, Room 24 [w/King Diamond], and Doc Holliday). Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive about Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.
So let me be the first to admit my apprehension was completely unfounded. 2016 sees the Danish quartet with a passion and vigor I haven’t seen since 2008’s Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood. Strap your steel guitar into the front seat of your classic roadster, and let’s enjoy the ride.
Opener and lead single The Devil’s Bleeding Crown is quintessential Volbeat with boogie-woogie rhythm with soaring vocals, and is exactly what you think of when someone mentions "Volbeat". Tracks like Marie Leveau, For Evigt, and Let It Burn hail back to previous albums, and keep things familiar for both old and new fans.
Pseudo-title track Seal the Deal is the highlight of the album. It’s a raucous, rip-roaring rocker (4X alliteration combo!) with both fast and slow bits, and Rob Caggiano shows what he’s capable of with his guitar work.
Feel free to call me crazy, but the corniness of Battleship Chains brings a big ol’ grin to my face. Sure, it’s an earworm of the most infectious variety, but there are definitely worse songs to get stuck in your head.
I’m seeing a lot of folks complaining how Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is "less metal" than their prior releases. While there may be some virtue to that argument, you have to remember that Volbeat started when some of the members of Dominus got sick of the stagnation expected from the greater metal community and wanted to do their own thing. Frankly, if being "less metal" injects some well-needed energy into their music, then I’m all for it.
If this album has any major faults, tracks like ’60s pop-inspired Black Rose and the Ramones-leaning Rebound stray a little too close to their source material and break up the album in an abrupt way. Even so, these don’t feel out of place, especially given the cover songs present on earlier albums. A bit disconcerting, however, is the opening of The Loa’s Crossroad being a near copy of Metallica’s The Four Horsemen.
There is a deluxe version of Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie available with four additional tracks: the sub-one-minute (mostly) instrumental Slaytan, remixes of For Evigt (retitled The Bliss) and Black Rose, and a live version of The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. The remixes don’t add anything new to the basic versions (aside from English lyrics for The Bliss), the instrumental is fairly throwaway, and you have your own opinion about live tracks. Personally, I don’t think there is any reason to shell out additional money for the deluxe version.
While Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie may have a few bumps, it’s Volbeat’s best album in eight years and a welcome addition to my CD collection. If their last few albums left you cold, give this one a listen, and see if your faith is restored. It gets a high recommendation from me, and is probably going to appear toward the top of my 2016 best-of list.