If you’ve been “lucky” enough to have a conversation about music with me this year, you know that I haven’t been able to stop raving about Danish heavy/metal-billy band – VOLBEAT. First discovered this band in December 2009 in Las Vegas when they opened for MACHINE HEAD and METALLICA on the World Magnetic tour. And ever since, the days and months of this past year gone by have been practically entirely consumed with The Strength/The Sound/The Songs.
And with its latest September 2010 release entitled Beyond Hell/Above Heaven ROCKTHOUGHT.COM sees 2011 being the year that VOLBEAT blows up every concert venue, stereo, and brainwave from here to clean across King Diamond come.
ABOUT THE BAND
VOLBEAT was started by Michael Poulsen in October 2001. Poulsen’s earlier group, DOMINUS, acquired a huge following on the Danish death metal scene, and released four albums over a ten-year span. Being a pretty big Elvis fan however, Poulsen grew tired of death metal, and felt it was time to re-write rock/metal history with a new band of bros.
VOLBEAT’S first demo was released in 2002, and the group’s second demo, Beat the Meat, began to build some serious traction on European radio. The band then won a semifinal appearance on the Danish talent show competition, Live Contest, and began an almost constant work schedule, including performances with some of America’s biggest metal acts, as well as winning a number of genre and industry awards in Europe.
WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE
You’ll hear elements of METALLICA, ELVIS, THE MISFITS, JOHNNY CASH, SOCIAL DISTORTION, AC/DC, and maybe some GODSMACK among its mammoth metal riffage. Some have actually dubbed the band’s music “Elvis Metal” for its combination of blistering, thrash-y, groove-y metallic mayhem and Michael’s killer Elvis-like vocals and sing song-y, goth-y choruses.
Beyond Hell/Above Heaven features guest appearances from Mercyful Fate/King Diamond guitarist Michael Denner, Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway, Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, and Jacob Øelund of rockabilly band Taggy Tones.
Don’t be fooled, however. VOLBEAT has an incredibly distinct and massively heavy sound all of their own. And Michael’s killer song-writing and story-telling is some of the coolest sh*t I’ve ever heard. “Cooler than CASH” perhaps. And he actually SINGS! And nails it. Every time. Wait until you hear some of his hauntingly killer choruses. You’ll shift from an all out head-banging state of berzerk to singing sweet melodies in a matter of Mach 10.
WHY THEY’RE JUST SO DAMN COOL
In my book, when you write these kinds of hellaciously heavy metal-billy songs, with influences from Elvis, Cash, Ness, Metallica, and early thrash metal bands from Europe – that’s about all I need to hear to cause me to stand up and take heed. This is one of the damn coolest/heaviest bands I’ve heard in a LOOONG time, and I could only be disappointed that I didn’t discover them sooner.
The band’s art-work and album cover/inserts are completely insane.
VOLBEAT actually mixes in a healthy degree of mellow-er country-rock interludes, mid-tempo rockabilly jams, and punk-rock cover songs, among their faster than lightning groove metal thrashers. There isn’t an album they haven’t released that doesn’t have something for just about everyone.
There are guitars all over the damn place. Everywhere. They’ll appear in your dreams, they’ll haunt your nightmares, and they’ll destroy your entire life if you’re not careful.
It’s impossible to listen to these records with a volume level set to any less than 11. Be careful with this stuff. If the songs don’t blow your mind, they’ll probably blow out your speakers.
Oh, and these guys actually write GREAT rock songs. And I’m pretty sure they could care less about doing anything else.
In no particular order or rank, here are some of our more “heavily spun” favorites from the VOLBEAT catalog. Highly recommend starting with their first and going from there, if you’re unfamiliar with the band. I think it’s still my favorite full-length, but I also seem to have a weird thing for bands’ first albums. At any rate, I’m certain The Strength/The Sound/The Songs will blow your drawer-knobs off if you need a good starting point.
It’s pretty rare anymore when we stumble upon heavy rock bands that kick this much ass. And I’m not lying when I tell you these records have totally owned every single music-playback device I have, this year. VOLBEAT is heavy as hell. But it’s still very accessible. Poulsen’s Hetfield meets Erna meets Elvis vocals, along with his enchanting (haunting?) goth/rock-abilly melodic choruses are brilliant. And the music will steal the hearts of fans of old school METALLICA, as much as it will fans of Elvis, Cash, country and punk rock.
VOLBEAT will knock your socks off. It grooves. It roars. It scares. It soars. And I’m pretty sure it’ll blow your mind. Don’t do what I did and sleep out on this band. Do yourself a favor in 2011 and treat yourself to a full-on metal onslaught – with VOLBEAT. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. And you’ll also want to check out the Live: Sold Out (2009) DVD. It pretty much kicks the mule’s ass, too.