Review Summary: I sealed the deal, and I boogied.
The first time I heard any of these tracks was when I saw a live version of The Devil’s Bleeding Crown (4/5), and the first thing that came to my head was the riff and chorus was identical to Nickelback’s Burn It To The Ground. Following that, I wasn’t really expecting much. However, when the studio version of the aforementioned track was released, it started to grow on me. The drop around the 1.55 mark never fails to get my head bobbing.
The second track I heard comes in two versions. There’s the version where the chorus is sung in Danish by Johan Olsen; For Evigt, and then there’s the other where the chorus is sung in English by Poulsen himself; The Bliss (4/5). Personally I prefer the latter (only because I prefer understanding the lyrics) and the only way I can describe the song is a mixture of two of Volbeat’s previous tracks; Lola Montez and Fallen.
The last track I heard prior to the album’s release was Seal the Deal (4/5). Initially I wasn’t too keen on the song but like The Devil's Bleeding Crown, it started to grow on me. Rob Caggiano’s influence has never sounded as clear on a Volbeat track as it does on this track and it’s one of the few tracks on the album that get my head bobbing, It even carries the signature Poulsen ‘HUH!’, which always makes me smile.
My favourite track by far on this album is Goodbye Forever (5/5). As soon as it starts it gets the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, and when the chorus hits I’m fully immersed into the song. The addition of a choir only illuminates the whole track and is cleverly done. As soon as I heard it, I thought “This has got to be one of the songs that they play live, not only to support the album, but for the future as well”. To be honest, it stands in my top three Volbeat songs of all time (alongside Sad Man’s Tongue and Evelyn).
The other two highlights on this album for me are Let It Burn (4/5) and Black Rose (4/5). Both tracks have a very melodic and catchy chorus that will be infectiously stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Gates of Babylon (3.5/5) and You Will Know (3/5) both start off as promising tracks but towards the end the choruses on both become a bit too repetitive and, in my opinion, ruin the overall atmosphere that they both seemed to originally promise.
Now we come to the cover songs. Out of the two, I would say that Battleship Chains (3.5/5) is my favourite. Like a few other tracks on the album, the melody will soon get stuck in your head and you will be mindlessly humming it in no time. Rebound (1/5), to be honest, is probably the weakest track on the whole album. Maybe it’s because I’m not into the whole punk rock genre, or maybe because it’s just because I feel it ruins the whole flow of the album and I deem it as needless filler. Either way, as soon as it comes on now, I just skip straight to the next track.
This leads me to the last few remaining songs. Marie Laveau (2.5/5) has nothing that makes it stand out as the other tracks do on the album. It could be due to the placement on the album as it comes straight after The Devil’s Bleeding Crown, as I find that if I have the album on random; it’s a song that I could easily listen to. Otherwise, it’s just filler fodder for me. Mary Jane Kelly (2/5) is the longest track on the album, and seems to drag on. Maybe if it was a few minutes shorter, it would be bearable; but as with the Rebound, it always has me reaching for the skip button. The last track on the album is The Loa’s Crossroad (3/5) and for me is the perfect finisher for the album. Whereas it’s not the best song on the album, it’s by far not the worst. It’s one of those that make me think back and appreciate the album as a whole, and makes me want to listen to the whole album again. The bagpipes on the track are actually a really nice, and unexpected, touch as well.
(Special mention for Slaytan which appears on the Deluxe Edition. Why, oh why is this on there? When the ‘intro’ came blearing over my speakers, it got actually got me excited. And then it just cut off without even reaching the minute mark. What a tease!)
Overall Conclusion: 3.5/5
Despite being let down by filler songs like Marie Laveau, Mary Jane Kelly and Rebound (I’m still struggling to figure out as to why they thought it was necessary to add TWO cover songs onto an already strong album), the album is kept tight together by really strong tracks like Goodbye Forever, The Devil’s Bleeding Crown and Let It Burn.
All-in-all this is a very strong offering by Volbeat, and definitely worth the wait. It’s quite clear that they have stepped away from the Western / cowboy influence that ran throughout Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies (their previous album), and although it still contains many hallmarks of Volbeat’s signature sound (which is a good thing because it’s very unique), I feel this is definitely a step in the right direction for the band.