Review: Volbeat – ‘Servant Of The Mind’

Like some sort of bizarre version of the fight between rival news teams in the ‘Anchorman’ movie, the two opposing sides in the great mythical Volbeat fan-wars need to be kept apart and never the twain shall meet. In one corner you have the die-hard fans that have been with the Danes since day one and “miss the heavier, more metallic sound of the old days”. And in the other corner, you have the fans that have just gotten on board the Volbeat express train and know the band for some of their more commercial output. With their new album ‘Servant Of The Mind’, those cunning Danes (and one New Yorker) have served up an album that should please those on both sides without alienating each other.

Opening the album with the Iron Maiden ‘Powerslave’-Esque ‘Temple of Ekur’ is a bit of a masterstroke. A statement of intent if you want to call it that. The backbone of the band; Jon Larsen (drums) and Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass) are firmly in the driving seat as the song begins to build over a throbbing, pulsating jam that brings the eighth studio album to life. It’s close to a minute before the unmistakable tones of Michael Poulsen kick in, and the enforced break from the road seems to have worked in Poulsen’s favour as his vocals sound better than ever and he’s full of life as he also brings the riffage alongside his six-string brother Rob Caggiano. It’s old-school metal with modern production values and a fine way to introduce ‘Servant Of The Mind’: the album. For that is what it is: an album. A body of work that ebbs and flows between changes in pace, style, and tact. For instance, the old-school metal vibes of the opener quickly give way to the boogie-woogie tones of ‘Wait A Minute My Girl’, a track that – let’s all agree on this – will totally slay when it is played live. No faffing around. A running time that just passes two minutes, and a track that purrs like a finely tuned Rolls Royce engine. In turn, ‘Wait A Minute My Girl’ gives way to the big-ass riff-filled ‘The Sacred Stones’ which just happens to give off a huge Sabbath ‘Heaven and Hell’ vibe thanks to Poulsen’s passionate storytelling and Caggiano’s stellar riffage. Those trademark Volbeat vocal hooks? Check.

The title ‘Shotgun Blues’ gives the impression that the song itself might be some sort of GNR-fuelled, high tempo slice of Sunset Strip, but in reality, it’s a slow-ish, dark, and brooding few minutes jam-packed with glorious guitar solos and some righteous work from the engine room team (later on, Jon Larsen totally steals the show with his impressive, non-fussy work on ‘Heaven’s Descent’). Volbeat keeps mixing it up by introducing the gnarly, fucked-up ‘Peter Gunn’/Link Wray guitars of ‘The Devil Rages On’ and it’s pretty hard to resist the greaser motorcycle gang “let’s rumble” vibe, almost as much as it is the change in pace around the 03:14 minute mark which marshalls in some killer, vintage guitar tones. ‘Dagen Før (feat. Stine Bramsen)’ lightens the mood, and in all honesty, the track should have been a massive Summertime radio hit; imagine Belinda Carlisle collaborating with Volbeat on a feel-good Summer anthem with a huge feelgood factor and you are pretty close. Great fun from start to finish, as is the insane riffage throughout ‘The Passenger’ – in places, it’s Metallica-meets-Thin Lizzy, whereas ‘Becoming’ is just full-on metal…with vocal hooks and melodies to die for. Ending with the epic album closer ‘Lasse’s Birgita’, Volbeat have come up trumps with ‘Servant Of The Mind’ – an incredibly heavy-but-also-versatile album with surprises lurking around every corner. Those riffs though…oh my. Crank it up and let the riffs wash over you.

Available now, more information here.

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