Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Volbeat - Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie

I was originally going to review the new Lacuna Coil album first, but this one practically wrote itself. I'll cut to the chase and tell you this is a simple but effective album. The cover and absurd name promise a collection of fun, hard-rocking tunes to put hair on your chest, and on that front Seal the Deal mostly delivers.

Those hoping for a return to the more abrasive, thrashy sound of their first two albums are out of luck again. Seal the Deal is a hard rock album at heart, which is not to say that Volbeat have gone soft, but there's more emphasis on streamlined, catchy songwriting than ever before. Fans who liked their previous effort, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, will feel right at home this time around.

The album starts with pre-release single The Devil's Bleeding Crown, which sounds like something straight off the first half of Beyond Hell/Above Heaven. As far as singles go, it's punchy but comes off a bit generic at this point in the band's career. That's going to be a running theme on Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie, but what the album lacks in originality it makes up for by just being fun. This is an album you put on to make a long drive feel short or get yourself pumped up for a run.

Marie Laveau is catchy tribute to a shady lady that would have fit right in on their last album alongside tracks like Lola Montez and Pearl Hart. Same goes Mary Jane Kelly later on the album, dedicated to the Jack the Ripper victim.

The Bliss features Johan Olsen on vocals, and if you have the bonus version of the album, you'll hear a version in English and one in the band's native Danish. I prefer the Danish version because the extra variety goes a long way in keeping one straightforward mid-paced rocker from blurring into the next. Both versions are a blast to sing along to.

By Gates and Babylon and Let it Burn the album loses a little steam. Individually they're solid tracks, and Gates of Babylon has one of the album's more memorable choruses, but there's an undeniable similarly that makes one song on Seal the Deal more or less interchangeable with another. Luckily, Black Rose comes next and it's absolutely brimming with energy. The faster pace, harder riffing, and guest vocals from Danko Jones make it a standout, especially as Poulsen and Jones exchange lines transitioning into a chorus dripping with nostalgia. The bonus version with just Poulsen singing is good but also shows just how critical that interplay is on the album version.

Rebound is a cover of a Teenage Bottlerockets song reworked to sound like a Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood era Volbeat song. Like the record's other cover song, Battleship Chains, it's a punchy, fun, slightly jarring interlude that's too short to mess the overall feel of the album. Goodbye Forever kicks in with a nice opening riff and moves into an absurdly catchy chorus that's half rocker and half gospel tune. The choice to include a choir on the bridge and final chorus could have gone disastrously but works surprisingly well.

The title track, Seal The Deal, is another highlight, with a heavy driving riff and infectious lyrics about pit-fighting for money. It comes off like a better version of A Warrior's Call and is guaranteed to get the blood pumping. You Will Know and The Loa's Crossroad are decent but mostly forgettable tracks, though Volbeat have never been great with closers.

I won't exactly call Seal the Deal a hit and miss album because there are no outright misses, but some tracks clearly hit harder than others. It might have made for a lean, tough, and irresistibly catchy 40 minute album, but as it stands it's still a worthy addition to the band's discography. I just hope they can manage to shake things up next time around, because their current formula still works, but who knows for how much longer.

Final Verdict:

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