Volbeat - Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil
Mascot Records
Thrash / Groove, Rockabilly
11 songs (42:38)
Release year: 2007
Volbeat, Mascot Records
Reviewed by Kyle
Archive review

Spring has arrived once again, and with it has returned all the recognizable sounds, smells, and, unfortunately for me and my allergies, pollen. Lately, I’ve begun to associate music with seasons; when it comes to metal, I tend to pair thrash metal with summer, Gothic metal with autumn, and black metal with winter. Spring, on the other hand, is a time of year that’s difficult to compare metal to; metal, a genre notorious for its rebellious and brutal attitude, is not easy to match with a season typically associated with bright colors, optimistic feelings, and a sense of fresh growth and new beginnings. For me, spring brings a wave of nostalgia over me that bands such as Social Distortion do with their catchy-as-all-get-out hooks. But if there was ever a metal band that managed to capture this same feeling, it’s certainly Volbeat; in particular, their sophomore album Rock the Rebel / Devil the Metal. If there was ever a perfectly titled album, this would be it; it brings out the best bits of groove metal, thrash metal, and hard rock, along with a dose of rockabilly and bright punk that gives the album a glow that is rarely ever heard in our pessimistic brand of music.

As American as Volbeat sounds at their core, Elvis-style vocalist and all, they in fact hail from Denmark. However, their main influences - Social Distortion, Metallica, and others – would lead you to believe otherwise. The only real indication of Volbeat’s homeland would be the Danish vocals that appear on The Garden’s Tale, courtesy of guest vocalist Johan Olsen, who also produced the album - more on that later. Speaking of production, the job done here is excellent; the guitars are nice and crunchy, the drums sound bright and highlight the tightly-executed performance, and the vocals are just loud enough to give Rock / Metal the perfect amount of “Oomph” without being too overbearing (bass, unfortunately, is nowhere to be heard). On tracks that feature several layered guitars, such as the intro to Sad Man’s Tongue (which features an acoustic guitar, lead guitar, and banjo), each instrument is at the perfect volume so that one doesn’t overpower the others, but that you’ll still have to listen to several times if you want to fully make out each individual part. Because of this, Rock / Metal is, in a way, a record that only gets better with every listen, since you’ll likely be discovering more and more elements with each playthrough.

As for the songs themselves, Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil is a highly entertaining mix of mostly fantastic songs. The best track by far (and the best Volbeat song to date, in my opinion) is The Garden’s Tale, which begins with a rousing, anthemic intro before bursting into an incredibly catchy rock track in the middle. As said before, Johan Olsen gives a great performance alongside lead vocalist Michael Poulsen; Poulsen belts out his story of a woman, perhaps his lover, that has died, begging for angels to come and take her away, while Olsen contrasts with his gravelly, Danish vocals, and contributes to the story, hinting at perhaps a more sinister side of the tale. I love lyrics like this; they’re vague, but not so vague that you can’t interpret your own scenario from the song, and your interpretation may be entirely different from someone else’s. Much more of Volbeat’s best appears on Rock / Metal: The Human Instrument is a highlight with its hybrid of electric metal guitars and blues slide guitars; Sad Man’s Tongue is an excellent metallized Johnny Cash cover; A Moment Forever is nice and thrashy, but still plenty melodic, and with tongue twisting (yet silly) vocals to boot; and Boa (JDM) closes the album nicely with an energetic performance from all members. Though most songs are well above average, a few fall flat: River Queen is standard heavy / bluesy Volbeat fare, with nothing going for it to elevate it about the crowd, and the same goes for You or Them; Radio Girl, on the other hand, is simply too poppy to fit in properly here, even though the song itself is fairly inoffensive.

These few dull moments, however, are spread out far enough that they don’t really bring down the enjoyment of listening to Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil, and three average songs amidst eight other supremely catchy and energetic ones is really not much to fuss over. As a band, Volbeat is rock-solid, and they know exactly what to do with their music. The day has yet to arrive where they deliver an album devoid of any filler, but hopefully their forthcoming album due in September will break that curse. Until then, I highly recommend that you listen to this album; it’s certainly not perfect, but Volbeat possesses a huge charm that’s difficult to find in metal music. Highly, highly recommended for anyone looking for an album that’s just plain fun.

Killing Songs :
The Human Instrument, The Garden's Tale, Sad Man's Tongue, A Moment Forever, Boa (JDM)
Kyle quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Volbeat that we have reviewed:
Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Volbeat - Beyond Hell / Above Heaven reviewed by Kyle and quoted 68 / 100
Volbeat - Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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