Review Summary: Despite some lack of innovation, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is an undeniably fun, rocking and consistent addition to Volbeat’s arsenal.
Personally, I get quite a thrill out of discovering new music. This used to be fuelled by television shows like Rage and Video Hits, but for much of the last decade it has been fed by the internet. This very website has been an integral gateway for me to stumble across new music and in 2013 Sputnikmusic shined a light on Volbeat and I saw it sparkle. Even though at this point the Danish rockers had four albums under their belt, it wasn’t until the release of Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies that I took notice. Naturally, after enjoying that album I was excited for what would be next from Volbeat, which has now arrived and is titled Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie.
Before Volbeat released their sixth studio album Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie lead singer Michael Poulsen wanted to make one thing clear; he did not want this album to be Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies 2. Unfortunately for Poulsen and co, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie does feel like a sequel rather than a spin-off; but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Although there is a shift from a western lyrical theme to a voodoo theme, the musicianship largely remains similar to that mainstream style from their previous album. Volbeat continue to effortlessly blend a myriad of styles together including rock, metal and rockabilly with Poulsen’s Elvis Presley like vocals, but it just doesn’t feel like this album shows enough growth. The album opens with 'The Devil’s Bleeding Crown'; a blistering affair that introduces the listener to Poulsen’s dark new character driven imaginary world. Even though the song has drawn comparisons to Nickelback’s 'Burn It to the Ground' and Adrenaline Mob’s 'The Mob Is Back', it stands head and shoulders above them both. Small lyrical nuances in the extended bridge are delightful, while pulsating drum work and infectious guitar work set up this album perfectly.
The next track 'Marie Laveau' introduces one of the albums most important characters via one of the catchiest tunes. 'Marie Laveau' is a slightly slower affair where acoustic guitar is added in the chorus and Rob Caggiano’s guitar work leads from the front. In my opinion songs which are built around strong characterisation like this, is where Volbeat really excel. Often lyrics swap perspectives multiple times and act as a conversation between characters, something you might not quite realise until reading through the album booklet. From here on the album follows a similar vein with songs such as 'For Evigt', 'Mary Jane Kelly' and 'Seal the Deal', but a few twists still remain. The song 'Rebound' at first felt out of place and I couldn’t explain what it was doing on the album. It sounds as if Volbeat were trying their best to impersonate Eve 6 but heavier. Once again delving into the album booklet revealed the answer. 'Rebound' is actually a cover of a Teenage Bottlerocket song and is dedicated to their late drummer Brandon Carlisle. The two bands toured together back in 2013 and this cover is Volbeat’s way of paying tribute to him. The other surprise is 'Battleship Chains', the second cover on the record, which was written by Terry Anderson but made famous by The Georgia Satellites in 1986. Both covers are excellent and showcase the band dipping into punk and rock territory but remaining true to their own sound.
Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is everything you could really want in a modern rock record and more. Its unique blending of genres and Poulsen’s ability to tell a multitude of different and creative stories is quite compelling. To top this all off the music is melodic, catchy and focused, with guitar solos and pounding bass. Some will say that perhaps Volbeat have played it too safe by sicking to largely the sound from their previous record; for example 'For Evigt' is almost an exact replica of 'Lola Montez'. But despite some lack of innovation, Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie is an undeniably fun, rocking and consistent addition to Volbeat’s arsenal.