When I first heard Volbeat, I was enchanted. Admittedly, my opinion of rockabilly was fairly low, and while I acknowledge Elvis is the king, I still say Metallica are gods. Even if Lars is a little prick, “St. Anger” was fucking terrible, and it’s been years since they put anything new out. And yet I ended up liking Volbeat anyway. Because if the internet has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me that metal is the most flexible, versatile art out there. I’ve heard The Children of Bodom do a Britney Spears cover, and it actually worked! I’ve heard The Ten Masked Men, and they are badass. I’ve even heard Steel Panther do a cover of the fucking Backstreet Boys, and it was good!
Long story short, Volbeat captured my imagination, and became an instant favorite.
Four years later, though… They’re still good and all, but I think it’s safe to say the novelty’s worn off. It doesn’t help that they’re a part of this year’s Rockfest out here, and the radio is prone to overplaying artists whenever they come to town. Regardless of what genre, station, or band it is.
The loss of novelty, in the longrun, has taken an awesome band, and simply made them good. And there’s nothing wrong with good. If anything, that comment is just a warning that my grade might not be the same as yours.
in 2013, Volbeat put out “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies”. The only real thing I really have to say about the album title is that if I were on the naming committee, I’d have flipped it around. “Shady Ladies and Outlaw Gentlemen” just has a better ring to me. But hey, that’s just me.
Aside from that one tiny little nitpick, this album is everything we’ve come to know and love about the band. And today, we’re going to give it a listen.
ALBUM ART: B+
1. Let’s Shake Some Dust
An excellent intro track that lets you know exactly where you’re heading. And that direction you’re heading is the wild west. Hopefully the kickass Quick and the Dead wild west, or even the bizarre schlocky Brisco County west. Never the sucky Will Smith Wild West!
2. Pearl Hart
Here’s where the rock actually kicks in. The first track seems like a lead-in to this track, but the two sound so unconnected that I might as well count track 1 as a separate entity.
3. The Nameless One
Weirdly enough, I thought this was the other half of “Pearl Hart” when I was listening to it the first time. I wasn’t really paying close attention I guess. It’s not especially ear grabbing, but I suppose it gets the job done.
4. Dead But Rising
Admittedly, I’m giving this the grade I’m giving it because it’s actually among the most overplayed on the radio right now, and I’m experiencing a wee bit of burn out. If you take the burn out factor out of it, you can probably bump it up a letter grade. It KINDA sounds like “A Warrior’s Call” back over on “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven”, but that’s probably because both songs are really D-chord centric. Keep in mind, I’m going by keyboard chords when I say that, too (I’m not especially good at guitar). That aside, it’s a pretty catchy tune. Even if the term “Dead But Rising” is a bit on the Engrish side for me.
5. Cape of Our Hero
Hands down one of, if not my absolute favorite track on the entire album. True story: I used the opening bars of this song as my ringtone for the longest time. Of course, that was back when I had audacity on my computer, and could edit my own ringtones out of my music collection to get the bits I wanted for free as opposed to gamble on the ringtone store. Whatever, I own the fucking CD, I oughta be able to do something like that if I want. And no, I’m not selling my recordings. I’m an entitled prick, but I’m not that stupid. What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, “Cape of Our Hero”. Hands down my favorite track on the album. Well worth the listen.
6. Room 24
You know, you think I’d love a song that’s this heavy. Shit, it even has King fucking Diamond on vocals! Instead, I find myself feeling… Bored. It’s too bad, because this pairing has the potential to be something pretty badass.
7. The Hangman’s Body Count
This was the first single off the album. Admittedly, this was a song that had to grow on me. I didn’t hate it, but considering “Cape of Our Hero”, I was genuinely surprised they went with this one. I mean hell, it’s ot even track 2 or track 5! Although I suppose we’re done with that cliché by the time we get to 2015, but still! All I know is that once you get used to it, it’s a great track.
8. My Body
Apparently this is a cover tune. I’ve never heard of Sameer Gadhia, but yeah, apparently this is a cover of… His? Theirs? Whatever. It’s actually not that bad. I’m going to have to find the original one of these days to compare and contrast, but right about now, the Volbeat version’s pretty good.
9. Lola Montez
I honestly have no idea who Lola Montez is, but my knowledge of the wild west is pretty limited. I know a lot of the obvious ones like Billy the Kid, Black Bart, Wild Bill Hicock, and what have you, but more obscure ones like this one go over my head. But I guess the song is all about her, so it works out in the end. I hesitate to call it a ballad, but it’s definitely one of the more upbeat songs I’ve heard these guys put out. Considering the lyrics, I’m wondering if that’s ironic, or just coincidential.
10. Black Bart
Hey, I was just talking about this guy! Unsprurisingly he gets a real badass track. The last one was bouncy and peppy, but this one is straight forward metal. Much like Black Bart himself, no doubt.
11. The Lone Rider
This song features Sarah Blackwood as a guest vocalist. I have no fucking clue who that is, but either way, this song is… Interesting. Interesting in the way that only Volbeat could possibly get away with it. It almost sounds like a country song! Right up until they get to the chorus, at which point he rock kicks in. This song has to be listened to to be believed. Even if you end up hating it, you got to admit that it’s… Interesting.
12. The Sinner is You
The Sinner is You. It sounds less like Enrrish, and more like an internet meme. It’s just too bad such an eye catching title is so dull. I know they’re trying, but I just can’t get into this song to save my life.
13. Doc Holiday
Again, I grade it the way I do because I’m getting a little burned out on the radio playing it. I’m also seriously bummed out the radio bersion edited out the intro that features the banjo. Volbeat is one of very few bands on Earth who can make a fucking banjo metal. Fintroll is the only other one I can think of off the top of my head, but I can’t guarantee they’ve aff
14. Our Loved Ones
I seriously thought it wasn’t going to be as slow as it ended up being based on the intro, but once you get past the sudden slow down from said intro, it’s actually pretty good. Slow tracks like this do tend to make for good closing tracks, and this one doesn’t stray from the beaten path in this regard.
OVERALL GRADE: B+
Really, what can I say about Volbeat that I haven’t said in previous album reviews. “Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies” is, if nothing else, another bulletpoint on the chart of reasons why this is one of my favorite bands. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth having in your collection.