Title: Servant of the Mind
Release Date: 3rd December 2021
Label: Vertigo / Universal Music
The pandemic brought VOLBEAT’s touring activities to a full stop and so mastermind Michael Poulsen sat down and started writing songs within the record time of there months, cutting down the whole process that leads to a new release from over two years to just a few months. After a first spin in the player, I realized that their sticking tightly to their kept signature sound, but the songs topics were a bit more versatile, so let’s start talking the thirteen songs in detail.
The album opens with ‘Temple of Ekur’, a song dealing with the antique and not the first VOLBEAT song with a story playing in that era ‘The Gates of Babylon’ is a good example for the bands knock for ancient stories. A song with a nearly melancholic attitude, but a wonderful powerful Saxon part, but definitely not the regular blasting opener, you would expect from VOLBEAT. The band’s first single from this album ‘Wait A Minute My Girl’ that reached high positions in the charts and remained there for a while, follows suit. The variety in rhythm and the Swing elements make it a refreshening one and will lift your spirits, if you felt let down after the rather boring opener.
‘The Sacred Stones’ takes us back to the telling of stories and deals with a person who is fell for with the dark side, revealing stories of fallen angels and dark, mystic powers. The song comes with a good melody, but it gets really boring after a while, a cool guitar solo-part is the only thing you can hope for and you might feel inclined to press the skip-button. ‘Shotgun Blues’ tells you a story of a person that moves into a new and maybe haunted house. The main guitar riff is a good one, hard and intriguing, but the remaining melody gets quite boring after a while, a bit more detail and sound-wise underlining of the vocals would have suited the song better. From ghosts we travel on to the devil in a form of a human incarnation with the title ‘The Devil Rages’, that comes with versatile riffing from Southern Rock to heavy Metal, great drumming intensity and finally you find that wonderful mix of Rock’n’Roll and Metal, VOLBEAT became famous for, back in the days. The best track on this album in my books.
A fantastic solo part can be found on ‘Say No More’ that somehow reminds me of older METALLICA songs, the 80’s Metal Riffing is quite strong on this one, but it’s not a song that was on my mind for a long time. Finally, you can find some of the Punk that VOLBEAT used to add to some of their songs in the past on ‘Heaven's Descent’ and a very welcome distraction from all the 80s Rock and Metal sound you heard previously. For ‘Dagen Før’ (‘The Day Before’) VOLBEAT teamed up with Stine Bramsen (Alphabeat), who contributes the female vocals to this song and like in ‘For Evigt’ - VOLBEAT keep the tradition of using some of their mother tongue in a song. The song is rather balldesque and prone to get some airplay during the upcoming holiday season.
When I read ‘The Passenger’ on the tracklist I was quite curious if VOLBEAT had dared to make a cover of this legendary IGGY POP song. The band has some roots in Punk a s well, but unfortunately, they had not. It’s a bit more up-tempo, but nothing special. Some more Punk elements can be found on ‘Step Into Light’, though this time it’s more prone to the direction of Psychobilly while the chorus almost sounds like Pop. This is what VOLBEAT stood for and became famous for in the past. The merge of all kinds of music into a unique and intriguing way, that made the songs stick to your mind.
Fantastic Death Metal riffing makes ‘Becoming’ a fantastic and heavy song in the beginning, but unfortunately VOLBEAT soon return to their signature radio-play fitting Rock sound, especially when the Rock-Pop chorus parts occur. It could have been a perfect song for the headbangers among the fans during a live show if they had kept the Metal theme through the whole song without the Pop chorus and some strange oriental themed guitar elements in the bridge parts. The next one ‘Mindlock’ is rather midtempo and reminds me of METALLICA again, but once more it’s nothing special.
The album closes with a very long (8 minutes) song called ‘Lasse’s Birgitta’. The song circles around Heavy Metal prone riffing, with slower and faster passages and varying melodies, but it fails to build up tension or a dramatic turn, though the story it tells (the prosecution of “witches” in Sweden back in 1427) would have offered plenty twists and turns to transfer the dramatic events into the music and make it an epic Metal song.
A solid but not very versatile album with no surprises… one could also say if you just let the CD play in the background, you always know it’s VOLBEAT, but it gets boring after a while.
01. Temple Of Ekur
02. Wait A Minute My Girl
03. The Sacred Stones
04. Shotgun Blues
05. The Devil Rages On
06. Say No More
07. Heaven’s Descent
08. Dagen Før (feat. Stine Bramsen)
09. The Passenger
10. Step Into Light
13. Lasse’s Birgitta
Michael Poulsen – Vocals, Guitar
Jon Larsen – Drums
Rob Caggiano – Lead Guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – Bass
Total: 7.5 / 10