Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
Vertigo / Universal
Western-infused Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
14 songs (58:29)
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Khelek
Album of the month

Ever since I heard the opening lines of The Garden's Tale, I've been a fan of Denmark's hard rock masters. In the 5 years I've been following their career, Volbeat simply have not stopped making great music, nor have they stopped touring. I've been lucky enough to get to see them live twice so far (as an opening act on Megadeth's Gigantour and as headliners), and both times they've put on excellent shows full of energy and emotion. I will admit I was a bit disappointed by Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, I felt that it didn't have the same level of energy and flow that Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood did, despite having some very memorable songs. However, to write this review I tried to put all of those feelings aside. All the same, my expectations were high as the buzz being generated around the album grew, and I am happy to say that Michael Poulsen and his talented crew do not disappoint.

The first track I heard from this album is Room 24, which was released as a free track shortly before the album's release. Being a big fan of King Diamond, I was excited to hear that he was going to be a guest on this record. The song is ominous, as King's songs usually are, and his and Poulsen's vocals work perfectly together, their different styles contrasting nicely. Volbeat doesn't have many songs that are this dark, but it works very well here with the master of horror metal giving the song just what it needs. Needless to say I was expecting great things when I finally got my hands on the album. The intro track Let's Shake Some Dust is a a Western-infused acoustic intro that leads into the first song. Pearl Hart immediately hit me with that familiar Volbeat-style melody and memorable refrain. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I heard it. It's a song that is not only very heavy and memorable, but tells a story with its lyrics. The Nameless One is another heavy, mid-paced track with a rousing, sing-along chorus, and fortunately it's a but more varied and energetic than Heaven Nor Hell or Fallen, songs that got old quickly on the previous album. Dead But Rising keeps things moving right along and leads into the more melancholy Cape Of Our Hero. This song is a bit of a cliché, the melody and guitar riffs being heard before many, many times in 80's and early 90's power metal from Angra to Gamma Ray. Still, it's not a bad song by any means.

The next two songs both have a sense of foreboding to them, and are probably the heaviest Volbeat have ever recorded. The aforementioned Room 24 defined by massive down-tuned guitar riffs and rhythmic drums, and of course some varied vocals from King Diamond. The Hangman's Body Count begins with a melodic guitar lead that is soon joined by furious heavy metal guitar riffs. This is a song that just makes me want to headbang. I really like the rockabilly style of Lonesome Rider, it's not nearly as heavy as most of the songs on the album, but it still has all the energy and catchiness of Volbeat, and Sarah Blackwood's vocal contrast with Poulsen sound great. I don't particularly care for The Sinner Is You. I've heard this same mid-paced melody and song structure a lot from Volbeat. If the song came on on the radio I wouldn't turn it off, but I found myself wanting to skip over it sometimes when listening to the album. Doc Holliday is another great conceptual song. The Western/rockabilly influence is very apparent once again, as is pure, sweet heavy metal riffage. The soloing from new guitarist Rob Caggiano (some will surely recognize him from his time in Anthrax) is excellent one this song in particular, as it is in many other places on this record.

Now to say that this album is a big step forward in terms of style or technicality would be wrong, but that's OK, because Volbeat aren't trying to change much. Instead they have only slightly tweaked their tried and true formula and used it to create a collection of songs that all fit together very well. They have succeeded in crafting a very memorable album, perhaps not quite as well as they did on Guitar Gangsters, but this comes very close. I've heard this album at least 10 times so far, and I still want to keep listening. Very few "mainstream" hard rock bands have been able to keep my attention like this in past 5 years. An excellent job by the Danish juggernaut, can't wait to see them on tour.

Killing Songs :
Pearl Hart, The Nameless One, Room 24, The Hangman's Body Count, Lonesome Rider, Doc Holliday
Khelek quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Volbeat that we have reviewed:
Volbeat - Beyond Hell / Above Heaven reviewed by Kyle and quoted 68 / 100
Volbeat - Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil reviewed by Kyle and quoted 85 / 100
Volbeat - Guitar Gangsters And Cadillac Blood reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
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