Volbeat, Servant Of The Mind (Republic Records 2021)

Danish heavy groove metal band Volbeat shows creativity and ingenuity with their new album, Servant Of The Mind.

With twenty years of rock and roll under their belt, Danish band Volbeat is known far and wide in the heavy music world. Their music is usually described as groove metal because it is heavy while being loaded with catchy riffs and choruses. Servant Of The Mind is their eighth studio album. The band is Michael Poulsen (vocals, guitar), Jon Larsen (drums), Rob Caggiano (guitar), and Kaspar Boye Larsen (bass).

I have seen Volbeat many times live and I have listened to all their albums. Musically, you hear strong Rockabilly influences and, as the years have rolled on, there are more pop-oriented songs, too. Poulsen’s unique and powerful voice is a mainstay throughout it all. When the vocals are combined with memorable riffs and a persistent theatrical flair, the band consistently produces music with a lasting impact.

There are thirteen songs on the new album and the set displays the band’s customary dedication to variety. The opener is a big fantasy anthem, “Temple of Ekur,” with riffs big enough to reach the clouds. The second song is short, just over two minutes, and has a single feel to it: “Wait A Minute My Girl.” It is super hooky and lays on a heavy REO Speedwagon homage. And then there is another sharp turn with “The Sacred Stones,” an eerie, doomy piece with carefully allocated rhythm and an unsettling presence.

All along this ride canyons and plains and mountains appear offering new and different vistas with enough familiar callbacks to remind you what train you are on. There are pop-leaning ballads like “Dagen Før” that preserves excellent guitar moments, and there are heavier stompers like “Shotgun Blues” and pushy punchers such as “Becoming.” Volbeat has put together another album their fans are going to love because it is everything they are looking for. Recommended.

There is a deluxe version of the new album with four bonus tracks on it: “”Return To None” and “Domino” plus alternate takes on “Shotgun Blues,” and “Dagen Før.” It is definitely worth it to upgrade in order to capture these. More music is better.

Servant Of The Mind is out now and available everywhere.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards from the Louder Than Life festival in 2021.

Links.

Website, https://www.volbeat.dk/us/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/volbeat

Republic Records, https://www.republicrecords.com/artists/volbeat

Volbeat, Servant Of The Mind (Republic Records 2021)

Funeral Chasm, Omniversal Existence (Aesthetic Death 2021)

The first full-length album from Danish Funeral Doom duo Funeral Chasm is a rueful contemplation.

Funeral Chasm is Morten Lund and Danny Woe. The two have known each other for many years but this new band was created only last year. Omniversal Existence follows an EP from 2020, I, and lays the groundwork for future self-reflective excavations. Unlike most bands in this subgenre of doom, Funeral Chasm finds its lyrical content in contemporary questions and personal issues rather than having a preponderant emphasis on death.

There are eight tracks on the debut album, averaging in the six minute range. Each song is inspired by, or discovered through, Psilocybe cubensis, or a closely related cousin. Danny Woe describes it this way, discussing the way he deals with the symptoms of chronic insomnia…

“When those emotions are peaking, I have learned that the most effective way to break that thought loop is to visit my forest cabin with a friend and eat some magic mushrooms, which help me from spiralling further down into the abyss. I have tried to describe these monumental trips in every song, and what I’ve learned through them. Sometimes you just get a nice relaxing visit into another dimension, but other times you can experience deeper knowledge about yourself (often referred to as a ‘bad trip’ or ‘ego-death’), and that is the moment where you listen and get the opportunity to evolve.”

This makes sense when you listen to the album because it is so immersive. Consider the first song “Embellishment Of Inception.” There is a clear progression through a journey – a trip – which has many stages. The slow, dire music accompanied by both clean and coarse vocals can be experienced as revelatory. There are spacey moments and frightening ones. “The Truth That Nevers Was” is like a dark, forbidding tale of excruciating suffering that is elevated toward the end, rising out of complete hopelessness. Then the very next track, “Mesmerising Clarity,” has a lighter touch while still being dramatic. There is nuance and fully-formed, complex ideas at every turn.

In the land of Funeral Doom, Funeral Chasm has created a unique place that clearly belongs while it simultaneously stands apart. Recommended.

Omniversal Existence is out on Friday, July 2nd through Aesthetic Death.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://funeralchasm.bandcamp.com/album/omniversal-existence

Facebook, https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician/Funeral-Chasm-103662204549338/

Aesthetic Death, https://www.aestheticdeath.com/

Funeral Chasm, Omniversal Existence (Aesthetic Death 2021)

Artillery, X (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Danish thrash masters Artillery come back for another round with their tenth full-length album, X.

1982 is the place in history when the formative machinations coalesced into a recognizable construct for Artillery. The released a number of demos in the next couple of years, leading up to the first full album, Fear Of Tomorrow, in 1985. They have been rumbling and shaking the metal world ever since. After a slow period in the 1990s and aughts, Artillery has been cranking out skull-rattling thrash on the regular for the past twelve years. The current lineup is Michael Bastholm Dahl (vocals), Michael Stützer (guitar), Kræn Meier (guitar), Peter Thorslund (bass), and Josua Madsen (drums).

There are eleven tracks on X, starting with “The Devil’s Symphony” and ending with “Beggars In Black Suits.” Better bookends would be hard to find. Dahl’s theatrical, soaring vocals are juxtaposed against the relentless riffery and ripping leads in a synergy that produces amazing results.

Most songs have a short lead-in bit before setting the guitars on attack, but then it is all metal and thrash. The vocals are the feature (as in Dio, say) while the fortress is the guitars and they are also the musical weapons. Catchy hooks and riffs and technically expert light-speed leads are the hallmarks of this band. This is exactly the kind of construction that has appealed to me since the very beginning.

There is one slower piece, “The Ghost Of Me,” but the album is mainly a study in adrenaline. In every song I can find something that really stands out, like the dizzying lead in “Varg I Veum” or the very complex but somehow still memorable lead-in guitar on the very next song, “Mors Ontologica.” There are mystical moments, tongue-in-cheek passages, and lines of aggression, all told in heavy metal. This is one to save so you can hear it over and over. Recommended.

The album drops on Friday, May 7th and you can snap it up everywhere. Hit the Metal Blade Records link below to see the varieties available.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://artillerymetal.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ARTILLERY.DK

Artillery Website, http://www.artillery.dk/home.php

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/artillery/

Artillery, X (Metal Blade Records 2021)