CD: Volbeat - Rewind, Replay, Rebound Scandinavian Elvis-metallers try out a new sound, with mixed r


From The Arts Desk

In metal circles, Volbeat are a phenomenon. For almost 20 years the Danish rockers have been filling venues with their iconic combination of bulldozer riffs and hip-shaking Elvis swagger. It's the tension between these two contrasting influences that underpins their success. Or, at least, so far. Now, the recipe has changed: the tension has gone. The flavours have merged. It all sounds a lot softer.

Fans won't be altogether surprised. Songwriter Michael Poulsen's music has been getting progressively lighter for years. What really strikes you is how mainstream it now feels. Other than the occasional obligatory rockabilly-metal number, the album is split between soft and contemporary rock.

The soft rock tracks fare the best. "The Last Day Under the Sun", about Johnny Cash, is a real windows-down, wind-in-the-hair West Coast rocker. "Cheapside Slogger" is an invigorating glam stomp. The rockabilly/psychobilly numbers aren't half bad either. "Die to Live" has a rich aroma of Brylcreem and engine oil. "Sorry Sack of Bones" feels almost like King Kurt. But, "Pelvis on Fire", the Presley pastiche, is way over the top.

The album's most lacklustre moments come where the boys flirt with a more contemporary rock sound. "Rewind the Exit" ends up sounding like Snow Patrol. "Leviathan" and "7-24" are colourless and uninspired. The limpest song on the LP, "When We Were Kings", could practically be by The Fray.

It's curious, then, that the band gave the album the title Rewind, Replay, Rebound which sounds like an attempt to evoke the early days. The LP is certainly not that, or even close. And yet, it's not a bad album either. It may be patchy, with frequent excursions into almost unpardonable blandness, but at its best, there's also the air of consummate musicians cutting loose. That, more or less, redeems it.

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