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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.