Review by Greg Maki
With a sound mixing and matching elements of early Metallica, old-school country music and rockabilly, nostalgia always has been a driving force in the music of Volbeat. It’s never been more evident than it is on the Danish band’s seventh studio album, which comes with the typically unwieldy title of “Rewind, Replay, Rebound.” And in case you didn’t already know where vocalist/guitarist/principal songwriter Michael Poulsen’s head is, there’s even a song called “When We Were Kids.”
As with its predecessor, 2016’s “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie,” there’s a lack of metal on this record, but don’t confuse that with a dearth of creativity. After opening with “Last Day Under the Sun,” a rock song that easily would have fit on “Seal the Deal,” we get “Pelvis on Fire,” arguably the most Volbeaty Volbeat song in years, a rocked-up rockabilly number in the vein of band classics “16 Dollars” and “Sad Man’s Tongue.”
Two tracks later, Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon hops on board for “Die to Live,” which has its roots in early rock ‘n’ roll, complete with an instrumental break featuring piano and saxophone, courtesy of Raynier Jacob Jacildo and Doug Corocran from JD McPherson’s band. The aforementioned “When We Were Kids” starts acoustically and may be the mellowest Volbeat song to date, but just when you think the band is getting soft, an eerie, surf-like guitar riff drives “Sorry Sack of Bones.”
Another song that sits comfortably in the rock zone, “Cheapside Sloggers,” unexpectedly features the record’s most metal moment—a guitar solo by Exodus/Slayer axe man Gary Holt, while the 37-second “Parasite” is a blast of pure punk rock. For those who are fans of Poulsen’s storytelling, there’s “The Awakening of Bonnie Parker,” referring of course to the infamous criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde.
The heaviest track—and my favorite—is “The Everlasting,” previously heard on last year’s live set “Let’s Boogie! Live from Telia Parken.” The only song I could do without is the limp album closer, “7:24,” even if the sentiment behind it—Poulsen wrote it about the birth of his first child—is sweet and sincere.
Backing vocalist Mia Maja and the Harlem Gospel Choir, previously featured on “Seal the Deal,” are back for more throughout the album, adding a different flavor whenever they appear.
It would be dishonest if I said I didn’t wish the band brought a little more bite to this album, but Volbeat never has been the pure metal band many seem to think it was in the early days. Metal was just one element of a wide-ranging sound, and it continues to fade more and more into the background as the years go by. “Rewind, Replay, Rebound” is no less diverse than any other record in the band’s discography, however. Whatever genre he’s working in, Poulsen’s songwriting remains stellar, bringing the past to the present and making it feel fresh. Love it or hate it, the sound is unmistakably Volbeat.
Republic Records, August 2, 2019