Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen is a fan of extreme metal, and was even in a death metal band in his younger days. Though Volbeat's music is catchy and mainstream, guests like King Diamond on 2013's Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies and Gary Holt (Exodus) on 2019's Rewind, Replay, Rebound tip the hat to more extreme styles. They also covered "Don't Tread On Me" for the recently released The Metallica Blacklist.
Their eighth studio album Servant of the Mind doesn't feature any guests from harder genres. It does however feature another batch of potential hit singles, adding to the plethora they've had over the past decade or so. Several Volbeat songs have topped the Mainstream Rock chart, including "Wait A Minute My Girl" from this record, which became their ninth number-one single.
Volbeat albums tend to be released every three years or so, but Servant of the Mind went faster. "I wrote the whole album in three months," Poulsen says. "I was in a good place and mood while at home, and had a captive audience of myself."
There isn't a lot of innovation on the album, but the songs are instantly catchy and memorable. Up-tempo tracks like "Say No More" with its quick lyrical "Jump in the Fire" shoutout to Metallica breeze by, while more moderately paced tracks such as "The Sacred Stones" pack more of a punch.
There are nods to the band's past on Servant of the Mind, as Poulsen acknowledges. "I don't think it would have sounded like this if not for the pandemic," he says. "There are a lot of Volbeat signatures in it. If you go back to the first record and [compare it] to where we are now, you can hear how the band has developed its style, while keeping the signature sound."
Poulsen explores a number of different lyrical subjects on the record. "The Devil Rages On" is about the devil taking human form, "Lasse's Birgitta" recounts the first witch burnings in Sweden back in 1471, and other songs lean toward more personal subject matter.
Volbeat bring aboard Danish pop singer Stine Bramsen (Alphabeat) for "Dagen Før," and her addition makes it the most unique track on the record and a natural choice for a single. That's contrasted by "Becoming," with plenty of metallic riffs from Poulsen and Rob Caggiano along with a singalong chorus.
Poulsen has one of rock's most distinctive voices, and he delivers another diverse performance, shifting from clear to rougher rock singing and of course his trademark Elvis style crooning is periodically injected.
Volbeat albums tend to be about an hour long, and Servant of the Mind is no exception. For those who want even more material, there are deluxe editions available that include four additional songs: two covers and a couple of alternate versions of tracks on the album.
Servant of the Mind has a lot of memorable songs, a couple of filler tracks, and follows in the path of Rewind, Replay, Rebound and 2016's Seal the Deal & Let's Boogie with catchy hard rock singles augmented by some metal moments.