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Thrash riffs, DM intenstiy, heavy metal melodies - 92%

Agonymph, July 29th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Victor

One thing I like about Japanese metal in general is the fact that they’re not confined by the genre conventions that are common in the west. And although Volcano might not be as wildly eclectic as some of their fellow countrymen, their vicious, yet melodic mixture of thrash metal aggression, death metal intensity and guitar melodies strongly reminiscent of traditional heavy and power metal would probably be considered too little of either by the standard European metal audience. While in fact, the contrasting elements really bring out the best in each other, making their sophomore effort ‘Davi’ a lesson in mixing melody, aggression, groove and excellent songwriting.

Compared to Volcano’s Fredrik Nordström produced debut, ‘Davi’ sounds rawer and overall less “Swedish”. Nordström really highlighted the Gothenburg qualities of the band by placing the neoclassically inspired melodies that were guitarist She-ja’s trademark even when he was still in Gargoyle front and center. Though the melodic lead guitar is still omnipresent on ‘Davi’, the intensity is cranked up considerably, the guitar tone is much more abrasive and the compositions are generally a bit more “riffy” than on their debut. That’s probably why it makes my blood boil more than ‘Violent’, despite it being a great album in its own right.

‘Davi’ also shows a more courageous band in terms of experimenting with other styles. It’s all metal, it just doesn’t stick to the same subgenre for too long. ‘The Wild Obscene Nights’ is a sleazy track with metal riffs, but a rock ‘n’ roll ethic that really shouldn’t have worked, but is one of the better tracks here. The highly melodic ‘Child Eyes’ really threw me off with the addition of the Hammond organ, while the shift from the intense, pulsating rhythms to the almost ballad-like verses in ‘No Way Man’ is a refreshing shift in the middle of the record.

However, I do prefer the band with the intensity turned all the way up. They have the riffs for it, they have one of the most powerful drummers in Japan in the shape of Gargoyle’s Katsuji Kirita and Nov’s raw, authentic voice just begs for the heavy stuff. Opening track ‘Absurd’ and ‘Progress’ both switch between the hyper-aggression of the riffs and rhythms on one side and the melodicism of the (twin) leads on the other. Closer ‘Barbwire’ basically destroys everything in its way and ‘History Cries’ is the perfect blend of aggression and melody, bringing to mind Artillery’s best work in the process.

In a time when stylistic conservativism seems to smother thrash metal, it’s good to have bands like Gargoyle and Volcano around to prove that it’s possible to stretch the boundaries of the genre without forsaking its essence. That essence – the unbridled aggression – is widely on display here, but decorated with just enough outside influences to account for a much more interesting listening experience. ‘Davi’ is Volcano’s creative peak and it’s definitely worth hearing if you want your blood to boil in a way that also puts a smile of melodic metal euphoria on your face. It may become a disturbing grin to others, but you’ll be enjoying something really special by doing so.

Recommended tracks: ‘History Cries’, ‘Progress’, ‘Absurd’

Originally written for my Kevy Metal weblog.

No Slump - 93%

OzzyApu, June 12th, 2010

As a band that crosses thrash metal with classical melodic death and European power metal, Volcano doesn’t just do justice to all three genres – they excel in them. I’ve never heard a band that makes music so pleasing that it tickles me in these three genres at the same time. Some bands can do it with two genres – death / doom, power / heavy, black / thrash – you know, the typical stuff, but three? With one being harsher than the other!? Only a genius could do this, and he’d need a crack team to do it!

Now the debut was a charismatic rocker with tons of straightforward, memorable tracks. Davi follows the same route, though the tracks here aren’t as in your face; this is probably because of the production shift. While the production is still very high, it isn’t entirely the same as the Nordstöm / Gothenburg sound that characterizes the band’s main music. Here, the music is a little more tentative and developed, with more affection given to the leads than on undemanding catchiness. I’m not insulting the first album, but in a way Davi is a growing album that, once it clicks, will be the flower in your life.

Every instrument is loud and crisp, and the guitar leads the charge with riffs innumerable and hostile. They’ll twist, burn, shred, and zoom without a whimper while you collect yourself, yet they aren’t technical or go all over the place – She-Ja knows he’s good, but he doesn’t jerk off his guitar neck because of it. What he does play is orgasmic, though, with the harmonious leads and neo-classical solos being the envy of any guitar player. I can’t exactly pinpoint a favorite, and it isn’t like She-Ja sticks to one type of style or song, either. No, you got harsher death / thrash songs like “Barbwire,” funky jives like “The Wild Obscene Nights” (fun song right here!), neo-classic opuses like “Absurd” and “Child Eyes,” and the rest being killer material, too.

Bass booms ride like electrical explosions on a one-way path to even bigger explosions. She-Ja’s guitar tone is buff, but the bass adds that extra bit to make it crunchier and grumpier, although not much bass groove is heard. Katsuji follows up right behind it every step of the way, and the more I progress the less I care about the hollow echo of the snares. I know that I can look forward to rolls, bashes of pure anger, decimating double bass, and artillery crashing cymbals from a man who knows a thing or two about drum kits.

Topping it all off is Nov, who has come a very long way since his thrash days in Aion. Hell, his barks puts his vocals as a youngster to shame: grunts, shouts, wails, screams, and more are the styles of choice on Davi, giving the listener more to appreciate as they hear him doing all of them with that arid throat of his. After listening to so much off Aion, it’s quite the change hearing Nov going for harsh vocals like he’s been doing it for years.

Come one, come all! Everyone that’s looking for thrash, melodic death, power metal, heavy metal or a swell mix between two or three or all of them should look no further than Davi. While you’re at it, give the rest of the band’s material some loving and go get hooked like the rest of their fans.