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If this were the first Volbeat album that you have ever listened to, and like it only because of the metal elements, you would probably be disappointed whenever you pick up the albums to follow this one, especially the later stuff. This is the only Volbeat release that I consider to be metal, and others may not. Mostly, they're a different styled hard rock band with elements of country, punk, and groove. This one being the exception of course, as it's more geared towards metal than any of those other genres, and definitely shows no signs of country influence that they would later pick up on.
Overall, this album has an edgier, angrier, and just more harsh sound. This is mostly evident in Michael Poulsen's more powerful, energetic, and incomprehensible vocals. Ok, that may not be true for all of them, but they have a bit more of a shouting sound behind them rather than straight singing. Plus, the Danish accent can sometimes make it a little more difficult to understand, but that doesn't stop it from behind enjoyable in the least bit. Now of course, this band is more melodic than not, and there are parts that carry a nice melody for a metal act, such as the main chorus in the opening track "Caroline Leaving". This is actually a great blueprint for what a lot of the songs on this are like. This one opens with a slow tempo, and a deeply distorted guitar riff that sounds like it could break into death metal vocals at any point. Perhaps this is because this is the closest full-length to the lead vocalist's original band Dominus, as they were a death metal band. Then, the clean but powerful vocals come in delivering something that could be a surprise to the listener, still carrying that angry sound. Once the chorus comes in, it gets a little more melodic, being a turn off for people who are looking for something that is only angry and heavy.
There is one part where there is an acoustic guitar, which is the very beginning of the third track "Something Else Or...". The immediate reaction is that they decided to add a ballad when first listening, but that's a false assumption. This one, the intro still has a depressed, metal driven sound to it even though it's softer. The first thing that came to mind when I heard it was "Suicide Note Part. 1" by Pantera. There is definitely a lot of groove metal influence to this, if you want to get genre specific. Other than that, the guitars are mostly solid, heavy riffs by Franz Gottschalk. Everything to appreciate about his work (at least on this record) is completely riff driven, and I say that because this record really lacks solos. That's not a bad thing at all though, because all of the riffs are more advanced and are unique in their own way. Like I keep saying, some are more harsh, some are a little more friendly to the ear. Mostly on the heavy side, but you get the point. The speed of the guitars is also essential for this, as that's how a lot of the songs keep their metal driven style rather sounding like radio friendly hits.
While on the subject of speed, that is brought out more here than on any of their other records. Michael has a special talent for singing very fast and ferociously, which is done a lot on "Rebel Monster" as it immediately breaks into fast vocals backed by fast guitars and deep, heavy chugging. The following track, "Pool Of Booza Booza Booze" is probably the best song on this record that ties all of it together. For one thing, I think it brings out the drummer's rage the most, especially at the beginning along with the heavy but simple opening riff of the guitar. It also has a lot of breaks between instruments and singing, where you can hear the drums very clearly. They aren't even played as fast as the rest of the instruments, but they certainly do their part. I remember hearing this song when I saw them live. They called up all of the children in the audience to join them on stage. They then changed the word "fucked" to "kissed" and the word "booze" to "chocolate" to make it more kid friendly for them, I guess. Regardless, it was certainly a different performance and they pulled it off very well for making such adjustments. "Fire Song" opens with a simplistic riff, but then goes silent and allows Michael Poulsen to sing rapidly but articulate, and is probably the best song to catch his voice alone, but another really nice factor about that is the fact that this is one of the only parts on the entire album you can actually hear the bass. One problem this band seems to have is that you can never hear the bass because of how loud the guitars are. But in that small window of time, you can hear it very well, and it sounds pretty phenomenal.
A highlight on here is the inclusion of the cover of "I Only Wanna Be With You" by The Bay City Rollers. It's an old, love song that was popular in the '70s, and is certainly a way to shake something like this up. This is one of the only happy songs on the record, and still delivers it in a heavy manner. In summary, this album is very riff driven and powerful vocal wise, all evident in almost every track. It's very speedy and heavy with few slow parts. The only issue is that the guitar is so loud that it gets difficult to hear the other instruments. Of what is heard, sounds great, but I'm sure it could sound even better if they would turn that guitar down just a tad. I consider this to be their only metal release. Maybe not to you, but that's an opinion.
The Strength/The Sound/The Songs is probably best described as a compilation album of all of Volbeat’s previous demos, strung together to produce their first official debut album. Does this affect the quality of the music and bring this debut to the level of a multiple-album band that releases a bullshit compilation album of demo material, singles, unreleased material, and/or re-recorded material? Fuck no! This is a strong debut and a great way to introduce a collection of impressive tracks that never made a decent release in Europe or the states.
Everything from the catchy as all hell Caroline Leaving and Say Your Number to the ballsy Rebel Monster and Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza to the mellow (yet heavy) Soulsweeper and the Dusty Springfield cover of I Only Wanna Be With You, gives the album diversity, groove, and melody. What can I say? This is a fun fucking album. I can say for sure that this is Volbeat’s most fun album due to its mish-mash of great tunes that don’t follow a concept or order any further than the organization of the complete album. Again, while the succeeding Volbeat albums are great for their concepts and structure, Volbeat’s debut is the best example of an all-out album with enough diversity – and the right amount of “sameness” – to give it completeness.
As on succeeding albums, Michael Poulsen’s vocals are clean and powerful – in the realm of Elvis Presley meets Johnny Cash (more prominent on the sophomore release) meets Danzig. However, Poulsen gives his range and style a flavor that encompasses the aforementioned vocalists, but in a way that makes it his own. He has beautiful range and power that drags his simple – yet effective – riffs and song structures into a realm of great, catchy, powerful, fun songwriting. A feat – in my opinion – that he was capable of doing with Dominus but in a COMPLETELY different way that when you listen to Dominus’s The First 9 or Volbeat album (yes, this is where Poulsen got the band name), you will be shocked to discover that it’s the same fucking vocalist/guitar player/song writer.
Beyond the vocals, the riffs are simple and groovy, with the perfect touch of accompaniment to the vocals. Volbeat’s style is a perfect balance of heaviness and acoustic melody, intertwined with heavy, thrashy riffs and 1950’s bebop. While Volbeat perfected some of these styles and riffs on succeeding albums, the initial characteristics and attitude of what they would become drench this album. Speaking of accompaniment, the bass fits in beautifully with the music; giving it that extra “umph” when needed and rhythm when asked. And while the drums are really nothing special, without them the songs would not be as good. I love the drums on this album and every Volbeat album that followed; a nice balance, yet placed far enough in the forefront to make a lasting impression. In a way, the drums are as simple as anything AC/DC or Metallica would achieve – and as with these two bands – without their drive, groove, and strength, the chances are their songs would be no better than mediocre.
So, if you’re in the mood for something not quite metal, but with the spirit and energy of something that is; with the groove of 50’s rock-n-roll, Elvis’s belting (yet incoherent vocals), and a heaviness to put most “heavy” rock bands to shame; Volbeat is your ticket. While not as elaborate, diverse, and strong as some of the succeeding albums in Volbeat’s catalog, The Strength/The Sound/The Songs symbolizes all that Volbeat stands for and what they achieved in 2005 and beyond: strength, sound, and songs.
Volbeat was a band that I liked, but they never really stood out in my mind. That all changed upon seing them live at Rock the Range in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada. Excluding the Nostalgic performance put on by Alice in Chains, Volbeat was easily the best performance. The instrumentation was nothing short of incredible and Volbeat mainman Michael Poulsen had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and chanting I, I, I with my demon horns in the air along with 2 000 other people was a surreal experience to say the least! Now onto the album...
The Sound, the Strength, the Songs could not be a more appropriate title for this album because that is exactly what it is. It crosses a wide variety of genres from hard rock, to rockabilly, to heavy metal. Someone asked me to describe their sound and the best way i can is by saying to combine Metallica (Load era) with Clutch.
The first three songs kick the album off at a driving pace that you just simply cannot help to head bang along too. It then picks up speed with the hard hitting Rebel Monster (which is very fun to mosh too by the way). We then come to the Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza and upon hearing that you simply just want to party and sing along to one of the catchiest courses of the decade.
We then come to one of my favourite tracks, Always Wu. it is on this song where the rockabilly elements shine through in the riff and Poulsen's vocal patterns and yet another course that you just can't help but sing along too. The riffs are a bit slower in speed , but not in quality as we come up to Say your number and the ballad-esque Soulweeper (this song takes on a whole new dimension seeing guys grab their girls and sway and singing along).
The album picks up speed once more with the Fire Song and then we are treated with yet another catchy rockabilly styled song, Danny and Lucy. The song caroline comes charging in to build the momentem for the final push of the album and Alienized continues.
suddenly the mood of the album changes once again with the song, I Only want to be With You. This song is unique because it serves two purposes: The first is that it has a very memorable riff, the kind where you want to throw your horns in the air and the second, is that it is a song that you can sing to your special someone. The album closes with the eerie intro and subsequent crushing riff and strong course of Everything's Still Fine and finally, one of the best build-ups to a closing album track in Healing Subconsciously.
Overall this is one of those albums that has truly something for everyone. It crosses many genres. It can appeal to a wide range of people from casual fans, to hardcore fans and everyone in between. It has riffs for guitar enthusiasts and slow songs for the ladies. I am utterly shocked that no one has reviewed this album yet and pleased to be the first. Volbeat truly demonstrates just how powerful the the strength of the sound of these songs really is.