Volbeat: Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie (Universal)
Elvis metal is back folks! Three years since the album that saw them take off to the wider metal world and has made them bonafide headliners Danish metal n roll band Volbeat have come back with their new album that moves them away from the outlaw country influence that was present on their previous release and deals with voodoo, the spirit world and darker subjects but still done in the bands trademark Metallica, meets rockabilly sound. This is the second album with former Anthrax axe slinger Rob Caggiano on lead guitar and the first record without founding bassist Anders Kjølholm (who has subsequently been replaced by Kaspar Boye Larsen but doesn't appear on this record. So the record what does it sound like, well Volbeat, such is the bands unique style, they have successfully bookended the record with heavier moments starting with the riff tastic The Devil's Bleeding Crown that is a heavyweight call to arms and closing it with The Loa's Crossroad which sounds a lot like Lars & Co (no bad thing for a band aiming for arenas), with Seal The Deal just snuck in for some rapid thrash action.
In the bulk of the record there is snotty tongue in cheek punk Rebound (a Teenage Bottlerocket cover) some tough lovelorn ballads like the Goodbye Forever which marries acoustic verses with an almost neo-classical leads from Caggiano, For Evgit which sung in English by frontman Michael Poulsen and in Danish by Johan Olsen (from Dutch band Magtens Korridorer) and the percussive Let It Burn which has a huge chorus holding it all together. Once again Poulsen's rhythms are the driving force for the songs like Iced Earth's John Schaffer everything is built around his riffs but Caggiano's leads give the band more scope to do things like the harmonic Gates Of Babylon that has a Egyptian/Persian sound theme to it but the band are still at their best with the heavy riffing songs such as Black Rose which has their metal meets doo-wop style choruses and features some gutsy co-lead vocals from Danko Jones along with backing ooh's.
I know The Devils... and For Evgit are the albums first to singles but Mary Jane Kelly has to be it's everything Volbeat do best in one song and my favourite on the record, with a swaggering riff and massive hook it's just excellent all round. Seal The Deal & Let's Boogie is the culmination of Volbeat's history so far and is the sort of album a festival headliner should release, hell even the Georgia Satellites cover is delivered with class. With this album and indeed a strong back catalogue in tow I'm waiting for a tour as soon as possible so yes sir I can boogie. 9/10
Death Angel: The Evil Divide (Nuclear Blast) [Review By Paul]
I’ve been lucky enough to catch the Bay Area legends brilliant live shows a number of times in the last few years and their last release, the excellent The Dream Calls For Blood certainly reminded the metal community that Death Angel remain a vital cog in the thrash machine. Follow up The Evil Divide picks up where The Dream... left off. Galloping along at the obligatory 150mph, The Evil Divide takes no prisoners. Openers The Moth and Cause For Alarm really maintain the bar with the technical riffage of Rob Cavenstany and Ted Aquilar leaving no prisoners. Lost moves to a different beat with the vocal performance of Mark Osegueda particularly impressive. If you want a contender for thrasher of the year, get involved with Hell To Pay. Crushing riffs, superb vocals, driving bass and the most aggressive drumming; it’s all here and it feels good. Hatred United, United Hate maintains the crushing assault with some of the band’s trademark slicing vicious guitar work top class. In fact, there is nothing bad about this release at all. It’s aggressive, its tight and it’s damn fine. Miss it at your peril. 9/10
Tarja: The Brightest Void (earMUSIC)
The Brightest Void is former Nightwish vocalists fourth album of rock music and serves as a precursor to her new album The Shadow Self. Turunen herself says that the album as "an idea for a big surprise and gift to her fans containing material recorded but not being included on the main album". For most this would be an EP but what we get is a sort of pick n mix of new songs, remixes and covers along with some guests helping out. First I'll deal with re/alternative mixes, these are the single/videoclip mix for new song No Bitter End which is a shorter edited version of the song that will appear on The Shadow Self but doesn't lose anything because of it as it's still a heavy rocking opening salvo filled with guitars galore.
The second remix is an alternative version of Paradise (What About Us) which originally featured on the last Within Temptation album Hydra which is a more orchestral version than the original. In terms of new songs An Empty Dream and Witch Hunt are bubbling electronica with Tarja reigning in the higher register for a darker sound although the best song on the record is Your Heaven And Your Hell which features Michael Monroe duetting on the albums heaviest fastest song, for the most part it borders on power metal except for the middle section that shows Monroe's saxophone playing that means the track takes a Pink Floyd meets Beverly Hills Cop turn. Covers wise they are interesting with House Of Wax originally by Paul McCartney, taken into a heavyweight menacing metal song that has all three of Tarja's octaves casting a spell over the metallised version of the McCartney song.
Following it is Goldfinger yes the Bond theme made famous by Wales' own Shirley Bassey, now as a proud Welshman I have to by law say it's not as good as Shirley's but it's a very good effort not overly different to the original but more operatic and with heavier riff. As somewhat of a stopgap release this is pretty good actually, with a nice mix of fan pleasing mixes and covers and hint to the heavy new record, The Brightest Void is almost essential as the next Tarja record coming later this year. 7/10