To all the wannabe rockers out there who think they’re just a few trifling alterations away from breaking through to the big time, might I suggest taking a long, hard look at a Danish outfit called Volbeat, whose set at Buffalo’s Town Ballroom on Monday contained everything one could possibly ask for from a heavy metal gig. Although not a household name, the band has found a niche for itself within the European festival scene while, at the same time, not discounting the importance of cutting its teeth in the take-no-prisoners milieu of a club, where the margin for error is slim to none.
Even Disturbed frontman David Draiman was among the metalheads in attendance, so that has to count for something, right?
Opening with a blazing version of “The Human Instrument,” Volbeat played shorthanded most of the evening given the fact that lead guitarist Thomas Bredahl was denied a Visa, but that didn’t stop them from establishing themselves as one of the liveliest acts currently trolling the hard rock/metal circuit.
Their formula of sweeping guitar hooks, iron-clad crowd connection and singer/guitarist Michael Poulsen’s stadium-ready vocal capacity worked its magic on the hundreds of devotees who came out to support them and I think even the band was shocked by just how many people sang along word for word.
To call them a mere metal band doesn’t begin to do justice to the rock, punk and rockabilly influences that came to the surface during songs such as “A Warrior’s Call,” “The Mirror and the Ripper,” “Heaven Nor Hell” and “Sad Man’s Tongue,” so these aren’t generic, metal-by-numbers posers we’re talking about here. The musicianship of each member is exquisite and steeped in the kind of discernable zeal the music deserves.
The surprise of the evening for me was how good Cold proved to be in the opening slot because, while their set was light on radio hits, the band’s unassuming stage presence was quite engaging. Performing songs from the newly-released album “SuperFiction,” Scooter Ward and Co. cranked out just under an hour’s worth of melancholy post-grunge that appeared to contrast nicely with Volbeat’s hard-hitting mentality.
Texas’s own Anchored were in the lead-off position with their entertaining brand of party rock, but still felt a bit out of place among their more aggressive counterparts.
Cold drummer Sam McCandless once said that “our music kind of creeps along like a spider” and, using that simile, I’d have to say that’s how the evening unfolded until Volbeat hit the stage. Then, it was like a spider on steroids.