Outlaw Gentlemen & Shaky Ladies


Vertigo, 2013


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Denmark? These guys are from Denmark?

That was my reaction upon finding out that the seemingly American-based, rockabilly album I had just listened to was, in fact, recorded by four Danish guys. I had not seen that fact coming, to say the least.

Metal from the Scandinavian countries is for all intents and purposes its own subsection of the overarching genre, but Volbeat took a decidedly different tact in settling upon a sound. The old West seems to have been the primary influence in theme for their records, and it isn’t hard to find the specific artists they have been inspired by musically.

That’s what makes Volbeat more interesting than your run of the mill heavy metal group: they do dare to be different. Half of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Outlaw Gentlemen & Shaky Ladies definitely skews towards traditional elements of the genre; when you bring in King Diamond to sing lead vocals on a track (“Room 24”), it damn well better get heavy. But truthfully, those songs, while solid in their own right, aren’t nearly as interesting as tracks where Volbeat lightens their touch, or brings in their best Johnny Cash impression.

The best example of this dexterity is probably “The Lonesome Rider,” which conjures up the image of the Man In Black onstage from the get go.  It quickly turns into a toe-tapping, rockabilly jam duet that you could very well link to the Cash/Carter pairings (in a spiritual sense). There are also touches of 80s metal, Iron Maiden style (“Black Bart”), along with a more standard hard rock backbone reminiscent of The Offspring or the Foo Fighters (“The Nameless One”). While probably still darker than what one would hear on the mainstream charts, there is definitely a sense that Volbeat is capable of achieving a more widespread success than others in the metal world.

I will occasionally harp on metal groups for not really delving into the human condition with their lyrics; it’s one of the inherent weaknesses of the genre that usually gets a pass. Volbeat doesn’t necessarily offer a difference in terms of depth, but they do have a lyrical focus that deviates from the norm: the aforementioned old West. Songs like “Pearl Hart” and “Doc Holliday” do tap into that uniquely American imagery, of gunslingers and cowboys. That approach is intriguing, especially when juxtaposed with the musical choices.

Volbeat is one of those bands that seems to collect a little more goodwill with each album release. There is a still the question of whether or not they will be pigeonholed by their musical and lyrical inspiration, but there is a lot of talent in the group and they are clearly headed in a positive direction. This reviewer is definitely looking forward to whatever comes next for them.

Rating: B

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