Volbeat is a multi-platinum Danish rock band whose sound weds hard rock, classic metal, glam, punk, and rockabilly. Inspired by legendary performing and recording artists including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, they also freely admit to the admiration of bands such as AC/DC, Social Distortion, and Metallica. They put it all together in an incessantly entertaining loud-and-proud mix of great songwriting, incendiary performances, and accomplished musicianship. All of their studio albums have been certified gold in Denmark, with their second full-length outing, Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil (2007) attaining platinum certification. Their debut for Universal’s Vertigo imprint, Beyond Hell/Above Heaven (2013), landed in the bottom half of the Top 200 with widespread popular and critical acclaim, while their second offering that year, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, peaked at nine; 2016’s Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie went all the way to number four.
Volbeat was founded by former Dominus leader Michael Poulsen in October of 2001, who became a dominant force not only in Danish metal but in Danish rock as a whole, charting albums and singles on a regular basis. Poulsen’s earlier group, Dominus, was a giant in Danish metal, releasing four albums in ten years, and making a lasting impression on the scene. Poulsen felt it was time to start over, and his concept of giving straight-up heavy metal a more trad rock flourish (Poulsen was a big Elvis fan, if that is any indication) was at the heart of Volbeat.
Bringing together members Franz Gottschalk on guitar (he would be replaced by Thomas Bredahl in 2006), Jon Larsen on drums, and Anders Kjølholm on bass, vocalist and guitarist Poulsen was able to release the band’s first demo, Volbeat, in 2002. Reception was lukewarm to the initial release, but the group’s second demo, Beat the Meat, was an instant success, getting airplay on European radio. Volbeat consolidated this early win with a semifinal appearance on the Danish talent show competition Live Contest. From then on, Volbeat began an almost constant work schedule, including performances with Europe’s and America’s biggest metal acts, as well as winning a number of genre and industry awards for their music.
The band soon landed a record deal with Rebel Monster and released The Strength/The Sound/The Songs. That first “official” release was a relative monster in the band’s home country, and beyond brisk sales, the album won a handful of awards, including Best Album at the Danish Metal Musik Awards in 2005. Volbeat had further reason to celebrate, as 2006 saw the group playing most of Europe’s best-known rock festivals, including Roskilde and Summer Breeze. They followed these appearances with a Danish tour. The follow-up to their best-selling debut finally appeared in shops in 2007. Titled Rock the Rebel/Metal the Devil, it debuted at number one in Denmark, and later that year Volbeat made a repeat appearance at Roskilde, opened for Metallica and Megadeth, and once again toured Europe.
They followed that chart-topper with Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood in 2008, which also hit the top spot in Denmark, and once more toured festivals worldwide, seeing their brand of metal, hard rock, and punk cross over into the pop market without a concession in their sound. In 2010, Volbeat released Above Heaven/Beyond Hell with guest appearances from Mercyful Fate/King Diamond guitarist Michael Denner, Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway, Kreator’s Mille Petrozza, and Jacob Øelund of rockabilly crew Taggy Tones. They toured relentlessly for the next year and a half on their own and played many festivals.
In 2012, Volbeat reentered the studio and emerged in April 2013 with their fifth album, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies, which introduced a new member of the group, former Anthrax guitarist Robert Caggiano. (He had been brought in to co-produce and add guitar solos for the project and ended up joining the band.) One of Volbeat’s most stylistically diverse offerings to date, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies also became a major international success; it went to number one in Austria, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland, while making the Top Ten in the United States, Sweden, Holland, and Belgium.
After extensive global touring and numerous festival appearances, Volbeat jumped back into the studio with their longtime co-producer Jacob Hansen. A pre-release single, “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown,” was issued in April 2016. The full-length Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie followed in June. Two years later, the band issued the concert LP Let’s Boogie: Live from Telia Parken. Volbeat’s seventh studio album, Rewind, Replay, Rebound, was released in 2019, preceded by the singles “Parasite” (which was 37-seconds long and caused a fan controversy) and “Leviathan,” and featured guest appearances from vocalist Neil Fallon of Clutch on “Die to Live,” and Exodus/Slayer guitarist Gary Holt on “Cheapside Sloggers.” ~ Chris True