Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Volbeat, those Danish kings of “Elvis Metal,” who are as at home performing onstage with Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway as they are opening for Foo Fighters. Michael Poulsen and Co. are bigger than ever, having recently released their latest LP, Rewind, Replay, Rebound, and toured with Slipknot on the first-ever Knotfest Roadshow tour. They have plenty of great songs in their catalog, but in our opinion, these cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.
ALBUM: THE STRENGTH / THE SOUND / THE SONGS
A chugging, romantic pseudo-ballad that evokes the Misfits’ Michale Graves–era classic “Saturday Night”
Sample lyrics: “Settle down for a moment ’cause your heart is beating hard/Baby, you’ve been my lover and I told you from the start/Better no promises and I’ll do you no harm.”
“THE GARDEN’S TALE”
ALBUM: ROCK THE REBEL / METAL THE DEVIL
One of Volbeat’s few songs to feature lyrics in the Danish band’s native tongue, this soaring tale of tragic love features emotive guest vocals from Johan Olsen of the band Magtens Korridorer.
Sample lyrics: “Leaving it all with my only friend/Her beauty was lifeless on the stair.”
ALBUM: GUITAR GANGSTERS & THE CADILLAC BLOOD
With its ska-like opening riff and its instant classic of a first line, this 2008 cut never fails to get a crowd singing along.
Sample lyrics: “Counting all the assholes in the room/Well, I’m definitely not alone. Well, I’m not alone.”
“A WARRIOR’S CALL”
ALBUM: BEYOND HELL / ABOVE HEAVEN
This pugilistic 2011 single is dedicated to former professional boxer Mikkel Kessler, and it’s an ass-kicking anthem bar none.
Sample lyrics: “Let’s get ready to rumble! Fight fight fight fight.”
“DIE TO LIVE”
ALBUM: REWIND, REPLAY, REBOUND
Volbeat have welcomed many guest vocalists to the fold over their career, from Napalm Death’s Barney Greenway to King Diamond. But Clutch’s Neil Fallon may be the best suited for the job of the bunch so far, his barroom growl a perfect fit for the band’s heavy boogie.
Sample lyrics: “Rebellious attitude, your mama’s got it, too/We can’t do nothing right when wrong is what we do/’Cause we die to live, we die to live.”