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Ultrameh Volbeatdown - 42%

Metantoine, July 27th, 2013

You know the feeling when you try the new restaurant in town for the first time? You order the steak, probably even the T-bone and its plate is nice, the side dish is decent, a green salad or something healthy like that (if you're on a date, if not, it's of course the fries, you fat slob). The steak looks nice, the exterior has a nice color and its smell is OK but the taste, man, it's way too fat and the inside is way too bloody. There's also an unnecessary amount of melted cheese on it for some unfathomable reason. The chef is experimenting and failing at it. Not everything you decide to mix together can be glorious.

Volbeat is that steak, they're indeed a very original band and I need to give them some credit for their inventive formula. Their artistic approach is not without merits and their intent is noble, well I do think so. Unfortunately, as one of Denmark's most well known bands, they totally missed the opportunity to follow Mercyful Fate into the depths of metal hell (Denner, Shermann and King Diamond are all guests on the record, this reminds me of Metallica Orion's festival, they seem totally disconnected of what metal is in 2013). But why Volbeat missed their boat? Because they fucking suck, that's why.

On their fifth album, the band expands its more than catchy side. They always had these soft songs but I feel it's a bit more prevalent here. It's not necessarily a bad thing since they're not better at being heavy or soft, they're pretty mediocre at both. Volbeat is mixing the alternative era of Metallica with a fair mix of rockabilly, country, blues, pop rock, punk and folk with their usual heavy/groove sound. The amalgamation of genres is simply too much to handle. It doesn't even sound good on paper and it's an awful novelty in its execution.

From sugary FM ballads like “Cape of our Hero” (hell, Chad Kroeger wrote a better song on the Spiderman soundtrack) to lead infused groove (Rob Caggiano, an ex member of Anthrax, he's pretty decent). There's acoustic and clean guitars and all the stuff that can make a good song. I probably wouldn't change the radio channel if I were to find it, but hey I don't listen to the radio because, frankly, it blows. Volbeat is easy, simple and they don't try hard enough. Not as heavy as their early stuff, the band still thinks it's metal enough with tracks like “Room 24” with King Diamond or “Dead But Rising”. The metal ruler of Denmark really destroys Michael Poulsen on this track, well it wasn't quite hard since I think he's a terrible vocalist and the main flaw of their sound.

His pitiful deep southern approach is really grating on my nerves. He kills the band for me since their formula is very vocally focused. His mix of modern day “Yeaaaaah!” James Hetfield and cock charmer Elvis Presley impersonator is like a slap of bad taste on my face. Even though his voice is powerful, his delivery and the sound of his voice annoys me deeply. Nonetheless, he's charismatic and it fits their Americana approach but I wonder how a David Eugene Edwards (16 Horsepower & Wovenhand) would sound in a metal band. At least he can write decent noir and pulp inspired lyrics but after five albums, the theme is getting a bit redundant. I get it, you like leather jackets, fedoras and you love milkshakes and you go to conventions dressed as James Dean.

While I reckon the band successfully played their cards during their whole career, their flaws are just too important for me to thoroughly enjoy them. Believe me, I tried and I enjoyed Guitar Guitars & Cadillacs Blood back in the day. Quite catchy (well, it's needed since their songwriting is hardly a subtle affair). They seem honest and hardworking but their approach is simply something I can't get behind. Both the form (14 songs, that's just way too much) and the mix of styles that makes the band undeniably cheesy and predictable.

Most of the songs have good parts but they're rarely good all the way through except perhaps the two last tracks, both excellent. I enjoy the beginnings of most tracks like “Black Bart” with its punky overture but the aforementioned vocals ruined the track once again. Many tracks have this western approach like “Lonesome Rider” with a female guest vocalist. It probably would be a hit on CMT if it was advertised enough and honestly, it's not bad. What is bad though is the fact all their sound are not completely combined with each others. You can hear an acoustic intro, some harmonica but then, it changes and they forget their western influences for the rest of the song. Sometimes they remember and play a ten seconds of clean country guitars just to be cool. I'd like to hear a good mix of metal and country since Volbeat can't hardly mix them. I don't quite remember the amount of different influences in their early albums but I have better things to than to go back and listen to them like eating BBQed shrimp and trashing Pabst Blue Ribbon cans.

Some good moments here and there but the vocals are simply too obnoxious to deal with. The band has good solos, sometimes even hints of Megadeth's melodic thrash leads. I just don't care for their music even though it's emotional and catchy. If you already liked Volbeat before, you'll certainly like their latest album even if it's wimpier than their previous releases. They're certainly still terrible and not worth your time. Have you ever met a Volbeat fan? They're as rare as Foo Fighters but for some reasons they're both popular and their albums are gonna be good picks in low price bins.

Metantoine's Magickal Realm