I’ve been listening to VOLBEAT since 2011, at the behest of one of my dear friends. Needless to say I was a fan as soon as I heard “Heaven Nor Hell” and “Fallen.” Their infectious brand of rock & roll, heavy metal, and rockabilly had me sold right away. But none of that could prepare me for how amazing this band is live and in the flesh. I was lucky enough to catch them down in Dallas back in 2013 and they blew the goddamn doors off the joint, cementing this love affair even further. This despite me only liking, not loving their last offering Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies. Didn’t matter because live they always bring it!
Which brings me to today and brand new record Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie out now on Republic Records. I’ve had five days to sit with this thing and I can tell you with no uncertainty that I am loving it from top to bottom. I think what was missing last time around was a sense of fun in the songwriting. Here Michael Poulsen truly sounds like he’s enjoying himself with each and every note he sings and there’s more of a passionate delivery on the choruses, something I just didn’t get a lot of last time. The dual guitar work of Poulsen and the incomparable Rob Caggiano is locked in, and it sounds just like your favorite hot meal tastes. The hooks are hookier, and rib-sticking memorable from jump.
At first glance, you might think opener “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” sounds like typical VOLBEAT, and you’re right to an extent. But hey,they’re good at what they do, so why worry about it, it’s still a cool tune, and it actually goes a tad heavier. Speaking of great songs, “For Evigt” (“The Bliss” in English) has a soaring vocal and smooth harmonies, and features Danish singer Johan Olsen of rock group MAGTENS KORRIDORER. Another guest star DANKO JONES shows up on “Black Rose,” the first in my triumvirate of favorites on the disc. It moves fast, the guitars and vocals rip, and dammit if you’re not bippin’ and boppin’ the whole time like you’re at a 1950’s sock hop! I dare you not to “Whoooah!” when they do!
Next up is “Rebound,” a track I had on REPEAT ten times in a row before leaving work today, a sure-fire runaway hit, home run, and my new ringtone. Fuckin’ hell I love it, and I’m sure many of you will too. As soon as I heard the lyrics I cracked up while doing one of my many silly dances. I DOUBLE dare you not to sing along to this one; bet you can’t stop yourself. “Mary Jane Kelly” is the third in my trilogy, with more of the impassioned vocals I was referring to earlier, and some spiritual subject matter, which I always find interesting. Caggiano has a killer solo here as well.
“Goodbye Forever” and “Seal the Deal” are total night and day, one is a mid-tempo, semi-acoustic number, while the other is a full-on heavy-assed speedster. Both are equally enjoyable, though. From the “unexpected covers” files comes a slightly heavier but no-less awesome version of GEORGIA SATELLITES’ “Battleship Chains”. Oh man, in 1986 I played the shit out of that one, and I’m now doing the same thing 30 years later with this new version. Please VOLBEAT, play it on tour!
“The Loa’s Crossroad” is a pretty ferocious closer and Poulsen gets to howl one last time for all he’s worth. All told VOLBEAT have done an excellent job with Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie. No bad songs, no filler, nothing too dark or depressing, just a shitload of rockin’ tunes that sound like the band had a blast recording them. This album will be on heavy, heavy rotation here at A&GS HQ all summer long, believe that.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Rebound”, “Black Rose”, “Mary Jane Kelly”, “For Evigt”, “The Loa’s Crossroad”, “Battleship Chains”