Danish and American hard rock band Volbeat has returned with Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie, its sixth full length studio album, produced by Jacob Hansen. The disc is thirteen songs of tight, clear, hard rock glory, built on and expanded from the successes gleaned from 2013’s
Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies.
This crisp, nicely mixed and mastered album builds on the strong, intense melodic framework laid down by past tunes like “Dead But Rising”, “Heaven Nor Hell”, and “Lola Montez”. Songs are built to showcase the rich vocals of Michael Poulsen and the guitar pyrotechnics of Rob Caggiano. Most of the rhythm section is foundational and groove-oriented. Drummer Jon Larsen’s flashy fills and change-ups make their way into every song, but tunes are built on a steady pocket groove with a vocal-forward, riff and solo backbone. No bassist is credited on the recording, but bass guitar lines are present and audible. They’re not flashy, simply complimenting the drums and the main guitar parts. …Let’s Boogie features a guest, Danko Jones, who sings on “Black Rose”.
The songs seem designed with big crowds in mind. Tune structures are most similar to what used to be called arena rock: relaxed tempos, simpler verse and chorus riffs, and very strong, engaging, singalong melodies throughout. The band lets its influences show: the intense
melodies from punk and pop punk, the crunch of thrash, the fire of shred, the expanded instrumentation of folk and country, and the vocal harmony and choral work of rock from days gone by. Songs are heavy, loud, well crafted, calculated, and high impact.
The “free” Western first world has quietly undergone a bit of a cultural revolution in the past 30 years. At least in the USA, mentioning “bless the goat”, “the horned one”, or “the devil” in lyrics outside of a fringe, extreme metal context would have been near unthinkable in 1986. In 2016, Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie hit Billboard’s #1 spot on the Mainstream Rock chart, of all places, with those lyrics. It’s glorious – a wonderful vindication for hard rock and heavy metal.
Similar to some of the better indie pop and rock, Poulsen’s upward vocal inflections, paired to strong vocal and instrumental melodies, tend to make the songs sound happier then the actual lyrics emote. Lyrically, themes ranging from hope, cautious optimism, through
depression, lost love, and even some voodoo and ancient Mideastern folklore (possibly by way of Lovecraft) pepper the tunes. Lyrics are character-based and personalized, rather than metaphor or idiom-based, rendering themes more easily relatable and accessible. A running theme on the album begins during “Marie Laveau” and ends during the album’s closer, “The Loa’s Crossroad”. Two songs of the 13 are well-chosen covers. One is Teenage Bottlerockets’s “Rebound”, and the other is Georgia Satellites’s “Battleship Chains”.
The fans have spoken. Volbeat has styled and structured Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie to address and please its new, expanded, worldwide audience. This album sees the band on top of the world, relishing in creative freedom and catharsis. While it’s not as ‘heavy metal
thunder’ as some of the earlier releases, it’s still good ol’ Volbeat through and through. This time around, the music is even-tempered and fueled by fire. The lyrics and moods evoked change from song to song, enough to please old and new fans alike.
Band Lineup (Studio):
Michael Poulsen – Vocals, Guitars
Rob Caggiano – Guitars
Jon Larsen – Drums
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
The Gates of Babylon
Let It Burn
Black Rose (feat. Danko Jones)
Mary Jane Kelly
Seal the Deal
You Will Know
The Loa’s Crossroad
Recommended Tracks: Seal The Deal, Battleship Chains