Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies (Vertigo 2013)

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Tedious Gentlemen & Safe Ladies would have been a better name for this album. A couple of albums ago, Volbeats sound was new, fresh and exciting, and combined with a great live show, Volbeat was destined for great things. But instead of developing that sound and taking it further, they’ve gotten stuck in their ways, and the only development has been towards making their sound more acceptable for radio.

 

The first four tracks on Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies are ballads, poorly veiled as rock songs, and most of them are not very good ones at that. Cape of Our Hero is the best of the bunch, but still not worthy of the band that made excellent ballads such as The Gardens Tale and Soulweeper.

 

It is to be expected that a Volbeat album will include a couple guest appearances, and Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is no exception. Room 24 (with King Diamond) and The Lonesome Rider (Sarah Blackwood). With the band finally showing some of their former creativity, Room 24, featuring the immaculate vocals of King Diamond. The sound of the song is reminiscent of the glorious riffs Mercyful Fate blended with the power of the old Metallica riffs, and is easily the best song of the album. The lonesome Rider is a predictable rockabilly / metal Volbeat song, with a great verse and riff, but the chorus is lacking and a bit of a let down. But the verse is fun and creative and Sara Blackwoods voice works great with Michael Poulsens signature Hetfield / Cash / Elvis-style. These two songs are the absolute highlights of the album.

 

Doc Holliday is a nice little rocker, and a proper Volbeat tune, which I believe to be a great live song. The rest of the album is mediocre at best. Everything is safe and nice, nothing is pushing any boundaries or exploring any new territory. The entire album seems less inspired and less creative than earlier, and it seems that Jon Larsen is holding back. The creative, steady, technical, unbelievable drumming of Jon Larsen has been a trademark of Volbeat since their first album and big part of my personal fascination since I first heard them back in 2007. Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies has about as exciting drums as a Metallica album.

 

Overall Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is probably a low point in Volbeats catalog. Everything sounds mediocre and safe, and it feels like they’re holding back. Poulsens vocals are bit on the one dimensional side, and it gets tedious and annoying. But a weak Volbeat album is still pretty good.

 

Room 24, The Lonesome Rider and Doc Holliday are the highlights.  

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