For Denmark's Volbeat, the truly classic rock era existed from 1953 to about 1986: from Chuck Berry and Elvis to the heyday of punk rock and thrash metal, with periods in between where rockabilly, surf, glam, and hard rock flourished. Volbeat possess the chops, imagination, and swagger to carry it off in front of 50,000 European fans.
Rewind, Replay, Rebound is the band's seventh album; it's appreciably different from what they've done before, but not completely. Volbeat, led by songwriter, guitarist, and lead vocalist Michael Poulson, have brought in even more hooks and sophisticated melodies without losing their ability to riff and roar with the best of the metal pack, thanks in no small part to ex-Anthrax lead guitarist Rob Caggiano. It's the band's first album to feature new bassist Kaspar Boye Larsen. Produced by longtime collaborator Jacob Hansen, its 14 songs revolve around themes of immortality and innocence, and how the pursuit of perfection ultimately leads to emptiness.
Opener "Last Day Under the Sun" is inspired by the life and lyrics of Johnny Cash; it includes welcome re-appearances from backing vocalist Mia Maja and the Harlem Gospel Choir, with a fist-pumping chorus and enormous, hooky guitars (a la early Boston). "Pelvis on Fire" is a clash of sounds and eras: It sounds as if a young Misfits created a medley of their early singles with rockabilly icon Jack Scott's "The Way I Walk." "Rewind the Exit" is a soaring midtempo ballad with chiming guitars and singalong chorus ballasted by a suspenseful hard rock breakdown in the bridge. "Die to Live" is a charging, melodic punk-cum-rockabilly-cum-Born to Run-era Springsteen in middle-eight. Neil Fallon of Clutch guests on vocals and there's a Clarence Clemons-esque saxophone break. "When We Were Kids" commences acoustically though that changes quickly; its melody reflects the writing prowess of Doc Pomus and Jack Nitzsche before it shifts gears to become a teen anthem worthy of Queen circa Sheer Heart Attack. "Cloud 9" offers another jewel-like showcase for Maja, who turns the midtempo rocker into the stuff dreams are made of. Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt delivers a killer solo on the glammed-up "Cheapside Sloggers" before introducing a chugging, guitar-wrangling metal breakdown. Punters were understandably miffed when Volbeat issued the 38-second "Parasite" as a single. It's presented here as intended: as an intro to "Leviathan" -- its power punk glam riff would make Johnny Thunders' ghost cheer from beyond. "The Everlasting" is the set outlier; it charges full-on into vintage Metallica power metal albeit with a trademark Volbeat chorus for balance. Closer "7:24" is 21st century power pop worthy of Dwight Twilley with excellent lyrics. Rewind, Replay, Rebound may be a couple of tracks too long, but when the songs are this great, that's a very small caveat. Volbeat have long been superstars in their native Europe for quite a while, but this album should go a long way to establishing them as festival headliners across the rest of the globe.