Denmark band Volbeat, combine hard rock, metal and rockabilly in their unique style of music. Three years after releasing “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven,” Volbeat have released their fifth studio album, “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies,” and it’s a hell of a ride. While it seems more laidback than their previous effort, “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” is an enjoyable radio-rock record with catchy melodies sure to keep your head banging.
The album opens up with an interesting instrumental, including an acoustic guitar, fiddle, and pounding drums that play in a genre-bending style. The next song ends up being a typical Volbeat song, with a catchy chorus and an overall feel-good attitude.
The fourth track, “Dead But Rising,” opens up with a heavy metal feel with a groovy guitar riff and interesting drum patterns. This is one of those songs you want to listen to driving down the highway at breakneck speed with windows open and volume at its maximum. The same goes for the sixth song, “Room 24,” as it opens up with a Metallica-esque intro and features guest vocals from King Diamond, and the high notes he hits shine through among the dark atmosphere of the song. The eleventh song, “Lonesome Rider,” features vocals from Sarah Blackwood, singer of indie pop band Dubstar. Combining her vocal style into this style of hard rock music add a nice touch to the upbeat attitude of the song. Having the inclusion of darker songs amongst an album with a majority of light-hearted songs such as “Lola Montez,” “My Body” and “Pearl Hart” keeps the album interesting.
The heavy guitar tone reminiscent of older metal bands is a highlight of the album. The same goes for the crazy guitar solos scattered within the album. The infectious vocals set a rock n’ roll mood in every song. The heavy-hitting drums and bass provide strong support as well.
However, this album’s major downfall is its lack in variation. Many of the songs have a similar song structure (intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus) and follow the same slow tempo of around 130 BPM. Moreover, because of that slow tempo, the album drags on for much too long with a run time of nearly sixty minutes. If they cut some of the filler songs out of the album, it would be a much more fulfilling listen rather than a chore. The longest song, “Doc Holliday,” ends up being a highlight despite the album’s long run time. This song is one of the best on the album due to its interesting banjo-dominated chorus, the long, technical solo and heavy riffing in the verses.
Overall,“Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” is a nice effort from Volbeat, but suffers from wearing out too soon. This album would benefit from having less content and fewer songs. Less is more in the case of this album. However, many standout tracks such as “Doc Holliday,” “Lola Montez” and “Room 24” show the power of Volbeat’s songwriting skills.