Volbeat

Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Written by: AP on 30/12/2019 23:17:36

As this country’s biggest rock/metal export, Volbeat have had to endure their fair share of derision during their skyrocketing career, its volume and nastiness growing in tune with the band’s success. A lot of the critique can be explained by Janteloven (a Nordic social code that disdains individual achievement), but it would be overly dismissive not to recognise that some of the most vocal critics of the Copenhagen-born outfit have a point. It has been a long time since Volbeat last released a record worth batting an eyelid over, and this latest offering, “Rewind, Replay, Rebound”, is hardly capable of reversing that trend. In fact, the album’s title neatly explains what the problem is, namely that it feels like the four musicians have no interest in taking their fans by surprise anymore, preferring instead to repackage a tried and tested formula endlessly, and without inspiration.

Nowhere is this complacent mindset more obvious than in the opening track and lead single, “Last Day Under the Sun”, which, as well as sounding like a prosaic alternative rock anthem instrumentally, hits a new low in terms of the band’s songwriting. In lieu of actual lyrics, frontman Michael Poulsen seems to have realised that your average Volbeat fan only needs an easy melody to mumble along to between swigs of beer at their concerts, and thus decided that it would be sufficient just to mindlessly repeat the title of the song in the chorus: “Well, it’s the last day under / Last day under the / Last day under / Last day under the / Last day under, under the sun / Yeah, it’s the last day under, under the sun”. It is the worst example to be sure, but lazy writing rears its head all across the album, while tracks worth raising an eyebrow about turn out to be something of a rarity. One of the better cuts arrives early in the shape of “Pelvis on Fire”, which recalls Volbeat’s breakthrough circa 2007’s “Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil”, when their signature fusion of late-era Elvis, heavy metal and rockabilly still carried an irresistible swagger. It is somewhat ironic that much of the appeal of this song owes to Poulsen’s sprightly vocal antics, with plenty of mm-hmm’s, ah-hah’s and brisk singing jazzing up its punk-style rhythm and riffs.

In general, it is the songs that find Volbeat steering their gaze back toward their heyday, as well as the ones featuring guest musicians that stand tallest on “Rewind, Replay, Rebound”. One of the more star-studded pieces is “Die to Live”, which enlists the services of Clutch’s Neil Fallon, pianist Raynier Jacob Jacildo and saxophonist Doug Corcoran to generate the consummate highlight of this rather half-baked album. Upbeat and rowdy, it is the sort of festive boogie-woogie psalm that Volbeat was all about when they still used to play in intimate pubs in the mid-‘00s, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave me feeling a bit nostalgic. But alas — today the group has stadiums to fill, and apparently the best way to do that is to churn out dross like “When We Were Kids” and “Maybe I Believe” that are anthemic in the moment, yet instantly forgotten cue the next song. It beggars belief that Volbeat are willing to stoop to satisfying the lowest common denominator of fan when they are perfectly capable of penning material with actual lasting value, as proven by the excellent “Cheapside Sloggers”. The influence of thrash, including a solo by Exodus, and more recently Slayer guitarist Gary Holt in this song helps Volbeat maintain a veneer of metal over their otherwise radio friendly sound, but the reason it takes the pole position here in terms of memorabilia is the emphatic chorus, certain to render it a staple of setlists to come.

The penultimate “Everlasting” is far less successful with its dabbling in heavier music, sounding like an even worse imitation of ‘90s Metallica than Avenged Sevenfold on their 2013 album “Hail to the King”, and while there is a certain sweetness about the subsequent “7:24” (an acoustic piece in which Poulsen pays tribute to his daughter), it is hard to ignore the fact that the misses here far outnumber the hits. With a musician of lead guitarist Rob Caggiano’s calibre among his assets, Poulsen has no shortage of talent at his disposal, yet it seems like he either lacks the vision or the ambition to harness it for writing music with some nerve without sacrificing his flair for the anthemic. And as such, this seventh and latest offering by Volbeat brings nothing to the table that doesn’t already exist on their previous outings. Grab the couple of highlights onto your playlist and archive the rest would be my recommendation.

4

Download: Pelvis on Fire, Die to Live, Cheapside Sloggers
For the fans of: Black Stone Cherry, Five Finger Death Punch, Fozzy, Mustasch
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.08.2019
Republic / Universal / Vertigo

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