Volbeat are two decades deep into a career that has found them sharing stages with genre legends like Black Sabbath, Metallica, Motorhead, Slipknot, Megadeth, Anthrax and more. They have racked up nearly three billion cumulative streams over the course of their career, earned gold and platinum certifications all over the world, scored a Best Metal Performance Grammy nomination for “Room 24 (feat. King Diamond)” from 2014’s acclaimed (and U.S. gold-certified) Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, and have won multiple Danish Music Awards.
At this stage of the game, Volbeat don’t have anything to prove. Not. A. Damn. Thing.
Even so, Servant of the Mind, the band’s eighth album, takes the signature heavy metal, psychobilly, punk ‘n’ roll sound on which they have built their reputation up a notch.
The lead single “Wait A Minute My Girl,” which frontman Michael Poulsen drafted as a love song to his fiancé, swiftly cruised into the No. 1 position on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay chart and camped out there for three weeks. It became the band’s ninth No. 1 at the format, which is a record for the most chart-topping singles by a band not based in North America.
The rest of the songs on the album weave intricate and fascinating tales. “The Sacred Stones” tells the story of “an earthly being who has committed himself to the dark side. He is on a mission, speaking to darker forces and fallen angels.” Elsewhere, “Shotgun Blues” explores the ghostly events he had recently experienced upon moving into a new home. “Every time you move into a house, you bring dead people with you. Weird stuff happens whenever I move into a [new] house… it’s very otherworldly.”
Meanwhile, “The Devil Rages On” looks at the idea of the devil taking human form. Album opener “Temple of Ekur” returns to the ancient themes explored in past songs such as “The Gates of Babylon,” while the epic album closer “Lasse’s Birgita” explores the story of the first witch burnings to occur in Sweden in 1471. “Dagen Før” offers a brief respite from the ‘thunder and lightning’ and features guest vocals from Danish artist Stine Bramsen, who is renowned for her solo work as well as being a member of the band Alphabeat. The song, in the tradition of “The Garden’s Tale,” “Maybele I Hofteholder” and “For Evigt,” features both English and Danish lyrics, and marks the first commercially released song featuring Stine singing in her native Danish.
“I wrote the whole album in three months,” recalls Poulsen, noting that the process of drafting a Volbeat album is normally two years in length. That’s due to things like constantly being on the road, family matters, and various other distractions that life throws one’s way. However, this time, he wrote at a decidedly quicker clip and completed the album faster than he did even in the earliest days of the band. “I was in a good place and mood while at home, and had a captive audience of myself,” he remembers. He found himself inspired and as a result, the music and lyrics just flowed out of him.
Isolation and idle time can be either very good or very bad. For Servant of the Mind, Volbeat were forced to craft new material during the shutdown and quarantine necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is a scenario that every band dealt with and will certainly lead to asterisks next to many album titles of this time, Volbeat used the isol
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