Historical hindsight will likely compare Volbeat's fifth studio album, "Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies," to Metallica's 1991 "Black Album"--the breakthrough moment when a heavy rock acts crosses from cult status to mass-appeal embrace. It's the Danish quartet at its most accessible, without sacrificing its gritty punch. With former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano in the ranks and co-producing, the set boasts a sharp dynamic thrust that gives rockers like "Pearl Heart," "Dead but Rising" and "Room 24" (with King Diamond) even more bite. And there are plenty of surprises, including harmonica and banjo on "Doc Holliday," and an earnest, if heavier, rendering of Young the Giant's "My Body." All of this combined with frontman Michael Poulsen's vivid storytelling makes this album the likely launch of a well-deserved new era for Volbeat.

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