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Volbeat: Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Once upon a time in Copenhagen...

Danish pop-metal best-sellers Volbeat bring a widescreen range of styles to their fifth album, with former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano raising their game as a newly recruited full-time member.

Heavy riffs plus amplified country rock has long been their signature blend, but Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is a slippery beast, moving fluidly between crunchy thrash, revved-up rockabilly and melodic punk-pop with ease. There are streamlined anthems worthy of Foo Fighters or Kings Of Leon here, but also nods to the heads-down boogie of vintage Thin Lizzy too. The Danish boys are back in town.

Volbeat’s gunslinger shtick is hardly original, but this album gallops along on Michael Poulsen’s vaulting, boomy baritone and warm-blooded, bear-hug melodies. Cowboy motifs are lightly woven throughout, from the spaghetti-western flamenco flourishes of instrumental intro Let’s Make Some Dust to the terrific Doc Holliday, which sounds like mid-tempo Metallica with added banjos.

Danish goth-metal veteran King Diamond duets on the gnarly horror-metal stomper Room 24, while Sarah Blackwood of British electro-pop trio Dubstar is a more unlikely guest, adding sweetness to the saddle-sore roar of Lonesome Rider.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.