Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

So I was kind of late to the Volbeat party. I got all four of their albums in one morning in the summer of 2011, was in awe from note one, and listened to nothing else for about a month. They seemed to get better with each one, culminating in 2010’s Beyond Heaven/Above Hell which is still my favorite.

So it was with bated breath that I anxiously awaited the release of Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies. Yesterday it found its way into my grubby little hands, and was on repeat all day.

After a cowboy-tinged intro, “Pearl Heart” starts things off with Michael Polsen’s signature voice firing loud and proud, and is a pretty good opener. “Dead But Rising”, and first single “Cape of Our Hero” are typical Volbeat, in a good way.

“Room 24” features a guest appearance from King Diamond, and some killer riffs courtesy of producer and newest member Rob Caggiano, who obviously pushed the guys to play with a bit more attitude.

“The Hangman’s Body Count” is kind of a weak song, but the real gem is next: A cover of Young the Giant’s “My Body” that sounds like it could easily be an original Volbeat anthem. It is the high point of this record, and will hopefully be in the live set for years. Every bit as good as the original, and as a Young the Giant fan, I’m dying to know what they thought when they heard it.

“Lola Montez” is another terrific song, and “Black Bart” turns up the jets, bringing us back to thrashy territory (again, thank you Mr. Caggiano!). “Lonesome Rider” is also not one of my favorites, but it’s not bad, either.

It’s funny, because “Doc Holliday”, a song you’d expect to be a rockabilly/country-flavored song, is one of the heaviest on the album, western motif and all. We end with “Our Loved Ones” complete with cowboy harmonica and acoustic intro, before settling into a chunky, chuggy, riff-laden tune, that really works well.

This is a very good album. Is it as good as the last one? No. But then, I doubt anything else will be. Volbeat seems like they have peaked, although they can still put out an album that’s worth the money, and I for one, am looking forward to seeing some of these songs live.

Standout Tracks: “Dead But Rising”, “My Body”, “Lola Montez”

RATING: 7/10

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