VOLBEAT’S latest album, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven,” achieves three qualities that the vast majority of Metal albums in 2010 will either fail to do or simply avoid attempting.
1. (The easy) Make said listener(s) move rhythmically; ala toe-tapping, head-banging, air guitar, etc.
2. (The norm) Elicit the daydream factor. The psyche of the listening should be moved into memory or fantasy.
3. (The difficult) Create heavy, practically radio-friendly music that demands your own public humiliation – This is no joke; you’ll feel like you wearing the goddamn scarlet letter as you attempt to sing along with Michael Poulsen.
In quite the unprofessional and lazy fashion, I limit the above list to a mere top three when to categorize the subjective listening method of a Metal fan is a much deeper, smellier, and grueling exercise.
But the fact remains: VOLBEAT offer the catchiest, most heterogeneous brand of Metal this side of Mars.
Part-Metal, part-Punk, part-Country, part-50’s Rockabilly, and yes, even part-Pop, VOLBEAT get away with so much genre-splicing that one would expect the Danish ethical society to be knocking on the band’s studio door for explanations.
In VOLBEAT mythology, “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” is where 2008’s excellent “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” left off and ultimately concludes. For fans of these four Danish rockers, the musical maturation - as well as song-structure progression - is noticed immediately.
Not as distinctly heavy as the other three VOLBEAT albums (and not even in the same ballpark as DOMINUS), “Beyond Hell/Above Heaven” succeeds in creating a pure Rock visage. The expressive vocals; the simple and timely rhythms; the soulful and searing guitar work; it’s all smiles – all good energy.
Non-cynical fans of Heavy Metal will no doubt find much to enjoy with VOLBEAT’s latest album. It’s refreshing, lively, a little corny, and wholly accessible no matter what your preferences. It's also extremely addictive.
Noteworthy: Several musical guests offered their talents on the album; including LOVESHOP’s Henrik Hall, KREATOR’s Mille Petrozza, MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND’s Michael Denner, TAGGY TONES’ Jakob Oelund, and NAPALM DEATH’s Mark “Barney” Greenway.
Top tunes: “Heaven Nor Hell,” “Fallen,” “7 Shots,” and “Magic Zone,” among others.
(Online October 14, 2010)