"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Volbeat - "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies" (CD)

Volbeat - "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies" CD cover image

"Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies" track listing:

1. Let's Shake Some Dust
2. Pearl Hart
3. The Nameless One
4. Dead But Rising
5. Cape Of Our Hero
6. Room 24
7. The Hangman's Body Count
8. My Body
9. Lola Montez
10. Black Bart
11. Lonesome Rider
12. The Sinner Is You
13. Doc Holiday
14. Our Loved Ones

Reviewed by on May 23, 2013

"Volbeat has created a potent batch of musical moonshine on 'Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies.'"

There have been other metal bands that have incorporated country elements and themes into their sound, but seldom has it been done as seamlessly as Volbeat does it on "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies." It's a fantastic blend of thrashing guitars, mournful freight-train harmonicas and Ennio Morricone moments that wouldn't have been out of place in a 1960s Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.

Just as he elevated Anthrax's last few albums with a deft hand at the producer's desk and an even defter one on lead guitar, so Rob Caggiano turns this album into something special. Take, for example, the emotional lead line that begins "Cape Of Our Hero" or screeching solo on "Room 24," which matches the earsplitting screams of guest vocalist King Diamond. Little wonder that he became a full-fledged band member in the wake of recording "Outlaw Gentlemen ..."

Not that the rest of the guys don't do their part. Michael Poulsen's driving rhythm guitar combines with Caggiano's lead line perfectly on the intro of "The Hangman's Body Count," and his vocals seldom disappoint. It's particularly fun to hear him trade verses with Sarah Blackwood of Dubstar on "Lonesome Rider," which features an almost mariachi feel in the opening. It's also got a great bouncy drum line from Jon Larsen.

Even the most perfect diamond has a flaw or two. This disc's biggest one is that it goes on a little too long. Excising a lesser track like the poppy "My Body" might have been a good choice. I might've changed the sequencing to end with the more driving "Doc Holiday" rather than the slower "Our Loved Ones," but that's getting into real minutia in terms of complaints.

Volbeat has created a potent batch of musical moonshine on "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies." That banjos and harmonicas fit in so well amid the metal crunch is a testament to the songwriting, production and performing talent that went into this one.

Highs: Great performing throughout, with "Lonesome Rider" and "Room 24" especially standing out.

Lows: It's a little on the long side.

Bottom line: An excellent album that mixes country themes and sounds into a batter of heavy metal crunch.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)