Volbeat
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood


4.0
excellent

Review

by Steerpike USER (24 Reviews)
February 15th, 2010 | 35 replies | 18,363 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rated K for Kickass!

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Many centuries ago, a man whose name has been lost to the sands of time said to himself, "We humans are pretty rad, but wolves are also really badass. If you had a man who could turn into a wolf, a sort of... man-wolf... my god, that would rule!" Time passed. In the 20th century, an enterprising American named Reese got stoned out of his mind (I'm assuming) and had the revelation that not only were chocolate and peanut butter goddamn delicious, but when combined had the power to give your taste buds orgasms. And so he took a chunk of chocolate, hollowed it out, filled it with peanut butter, and changed junk food history forever. In 2001 a Dane by the name of Michael Poulsen had the revelation that he could redefine awesome by combining the catchy, old school swing of rockabilly with the energy and balls-out-itude of groove metal. And thus was Volbeat born.

Michael is without a doubt the real star of the show in the band with genuine charisma and a dynamic voice that sounds like it could fill a theater without a microphone no problem. He serves both guitar and vocal duties, contributing thrashing, syncopated riffs with an unabashed Elvis impersonation. Volbeat's first album was titled The Strength/The Sound/The Songs, which appropriately sums up their attitude. This carries across into their third album Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood.

It's worth noting that Volbeat aren't a true revival band like Brian Setzer. Rather, they're more of a fusion band like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (at times). And they're not a squeaky clean group either. Many of Michael's lyrics tend to focus on the idea of the outlaw, the outcast, or the anti-hero. Songs of drinking and rebellion fill the albums. It's appropriate because as tame as the rockabilly acts of the 50's may look to us in the new millennium, in their time they were a new brand of hard-drinking hedonists born into an era of paranoia, anxiety, and repression. And being derived from the blues, there was plenty of room to be miserable and angry.

The album can be a bit deceptive in that regard as it starts off with an instrumental intro that transitions into the title track, and that is followed up immediately with the very 50's-influenced Back to Prom. But where you get your first hints of something heavier and bleaker is Mary Ann's Place, a melancholy tune in the vein of the early rock death ballads. I kid you not. Most of us tend to forget or were simply not aware that music in that decade was packed to bursting with songs about dead loved ones.

This is not to say of course that Volbeat ever give the image of being clean, safe, or overly commercial. The title of the album alone should make it clear. Just as Pantera declared themselves to be the Cowboys from Hell, Volbeat are the Guitar Gangsters. They are here to rock out, get completely blasted, and pack it all up to do it again tomorrow night.

Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood offers a decent variety of songs. Some of the darker tunes include Hallelujah Goat and Wild Rover of Hell. The requisite 50's love songs are here in the mostly unrequited variety such as We and Maybellene I Hofteholder. And there are of course the roof-raisers such as the title track and A Broken Man and the Dawn. A couple of ballads are thrown in as well. Light a Way has a more modern power ballad feel to it while still being heavy with whiskey-soaked Americana. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry is a Hank Williams cover, which cements the band's dedication to their American West/1950's influences.

As I mentioned, Volbeat never hesitate to show themselves as the outcasts. One particularly good example of this is the cynical Still Counting in which Michael croons out his lamentations and judgments in a bar, a loser among other losers. At the same time though there's a dichotomy of sometimes finding heroism in suffering such as we see in Light a Way. The lyrics are only marred slightly by Michael's imperfect English and at times it feels a bit like reading dialog from Metalocalypse (i.e. "And no longer shall Hell awaits," or "Your charm do not evens the pain.")

I've heard Volbeat accused on occasion of being a gimmick band who use an Elvis impersonation and slide guitar to hide behind in place of real musical talent. But listening to the infectious songwriting of Mary Ann's Place and Wild Rover of Hell it's clear that this is not the case. This band is all about catchiness and groove, and few can dispute that they're a talented bunch. Which does bring about my one complaint about the production. Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood was obviously given a higher studio budget to work with than its predecessor Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil (also badass). This led to the decision to layer Michael's voice in nearly every single track. But as I mentioned before, the guy has such a naturally powerful voice that it feels completely unnecessary and calls to mind the cheesy overproduction that so many contemporary artists make the mistake of using when they're not using auto-tune to sound like someone's strangling a robot dolphin.

That said, this quibble with the production is hardly a deal breaker. The fusion of rockabilly with groove metal is fresh and original enough and so well executed that it completely leaves the realm of gimmickry behind while giving it the finger on the way out as it zooms off in a classic American roadster. The album loses a little slack toward the end but not enough to kill the experience, and half the tracks make for some truly rad party music. And if nothing else, it's so different and cleverly presented that the flaws are irrelevant. You owe it to yourself to check this band out because there's nothing else quite like them.

If you're looking for something new, Volbeat gets a hardy recommendation. Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood: Rated K for Kickass!



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user ratings (227)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
BigHans
February 15th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuck yes. Everyone needs to check out Volbeat, although I like the prior record to this better.

BallsToTheWall
February 15th 2010



44164 Comments


Band needs more love in America. Solid review/cd/band. I cant wait for the enxt Volbeat record.



You know i'm pretty sure I reviewed this, what the hell?

Steerpike
February 15th 2010



1859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The system screwed up and created 3 different profiles for this album. I reported the bug, but I guess their answer was to just delete the old ones or something. Go figure.

Wish
February 15th 2010



262 Comments


I merged the duplicate albums but it obviously fucked up. The other review is here http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=30529 but I cannot get the album title to appear.

BallsToTheWall, you can post the review for the album again if you like, or I can see if Jom or Dave can fix it.

JWT155
February 15th 2010



9205 Comments


I've only heard great things about Volbeat, guess I should check these guys out asap.

BallsToTheWall
February 15th 2010



44164 Comments


I reviewed the album a =year ago. No way to restore it now. Originally one page for this album was fucked up completely so I added another one,which I thought was swell. Meh...

IRAI
February 15th 2010



1567 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is pretty awesome so far.

ive been meaning to listen to them, due to my love of Psychobilly/Rockabilly.

and im greatly pleased so far.

its different, in a good way.

Steerpike
February 15th 2010



1859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I merged the duplicate albums but it obviously fucked up.


This is why I tend to delegate any issue involving computers in my own projects to somebody else. Do you ever get the impression that these things only work whenever they feel like it?

Dethtrasher
February 16th 2010



2211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is so good. Maybelenne I Hofteholder is their best track ever. Nice review.

BallsToTheWall
February 16th 2010



44164 Comments


Dig your dig deth. That seriously needs a review.

On topic, I think this slays just a little more than the previous album. We is pure class.



Dethtrasher
February 16th 2010



2211 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We is pretty damn solid yes, but I like the intro more than the actual song.
I thought that Grant reviewed that Dawn Of Dying album but I was kinda surprised when I realized that it was unreviewed and only had 3 ratings.

Steerpike
February 17th 2010



1859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

We is one of the most solid tracks on the album, but I keep finding Back to Prom getting stuck in my head.

fromtheinside
August 19th 2010



17678 Comments


just heard this band the other day and can't stop listening. good review too, album kicks ass indeed.

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

WatchItExplode
February 15th 2011



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I how I have to sing along to these guys in the care but only know about half the words. Maybe thats best cuz some of them are pretty dumb. Chorus of Hallelujah Goat is boss.

BallsToTheWall
February 15th 2011



44164 Comments


So is the verse. My favorite Volbeat record no doubt.

WatchItExplode
February 15th 2011



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like RockTheRebel/MetalTheDevil a tad more, just because its a bit heavier. Very consistent band however, just a lot of fun.

BigHans
March 25th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey did you guys know that Volbeat rules?

Counterfeit
March 25th 2011



17819 Comments


every thread. really.

BigHans
March 25th 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah because you havnet fulfilled your promise to rock out to them yet

WatchItExplode
March 25th 2011



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hanspam



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