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Sometimes fun but mostly boring - 50%

gk, January 27th, 2009

Vulcano formed in 1981 in Brazil and their claim to fame according to Metal Archives is that they were the first extreme metal to come out of South America. Tales From The Black Book is the band’s sixth album and was originally released in 2004 as the band’s comeback album from a fourteen year hiatus. It has now got the re-issue treatment from the good people at Sweden’s I Hate.

Vulcano play your typical primitive Brazilian thrash metal. They do a pretty solid job of it too. The songs are all fast, heavy and fun. The music on offer sounds like a cross between 80s German thrash with some more accessible moments picked out from the discographies of early Metallica and Megadeth. It’s a bit difficult to pick out stand out tracks because while competent and fun, nothing in this album really stands out. The songs are all quite similar sounding with little in the way of variety and have a tendency to blur into one another making Tales from the Black Book an exercise in generic thrashing.

The band brings very little invention to the genre but that’s okay because all the great thrash riffs had already been written pre-2004. The band does have the occasional memorable groove happening but that is too rare an occasion to save this album. There’s something about Vulcano’s music that reminds me of early Tankard but this band is a lot more serious in approach.

At the end of the day, I really don’t know who this album is aimed at. This is a generic thrash metal album that’s not as extreme as it’s made out to be and not as good either. The band’s earlier albums might have made for more interesting re-issues but Tales from the Black Book is what’s out now and that’s that. There’s always going to be a market for primitive generic thrash and I’m pretty sure this will find its way to them. The rest of you can move on.

Originally written for

Vulcano's Later Black Book - 82%

Byrgan, August 17th, 2008

Like a few bands that put out albums in the 80s and then decided to resurrect their former selves many years later, even 14 years later in this case. Returning with an unlucky number of 13 tracks, would Vulcano's Tales From the Black Book be so lucky in sound? At first soaking their new emergence with a remembrance of their tunes that varied in metal presentation almost per past release. Also switching around the line up. This time placing founding band member Zhema back on bass duties. Recruiting two new faces on guitars. And long time vocalist Angel being in roll call for the 04' extravaganza. Overall, to me, this release is preferred to their releases that came after Bloody Vengeance. With a heavy assault of old-school death-metal tendencies and a mixing of death-thrash occurrences this time around. Although, having a song called 'Tales from the Black Metal Book,' I can prior sympathize with them, but not entirely relate to the later experience. However, it seems like the lyrics from this song hint at a metaphor of using black metal, as in the color of black with an element of metal, to destroy with. Furthermore, it is quite strange to hear a refreshing release with some tones of thrash included, released after 2000, that would be made by a band that hasn't recorded a full length album in over a decade. Whatever made them decide to chisel away at stone, to not make their eventual gravestone, but a heavy banner that would be lifted high and proud. Would be anyone's gleeful guess.

Up till Who Are the True, Vulcano would have some production dilemmas. Trading heavy music for raw and often unpolished sound. Ratrace happened and I was a little disappointed though. Because they would record an album that would have high production values but on the other hand sound mostly like a boring, chug-filler of an album. With this sudden return of Vulcano with Tales From the Black Book, it is just what they were missing production wise, with a musical identity to match it as well. You can turn up your speakers without getting assaulted with treble-like buzz, or even a raw scratchiness. If the music is able to overcome its own unpolished sound, then I can usually compensate with what is available. On the other hand, if a band produces an album with under-produced sound and under-played musicianship, then it is easily discardable. With those two thoughts in mind, when a band produces heavy music with a production that is audible and is just about right, it hits right home. That's not to exaggerate and say that Vulcano have suddenly returned with a production on an album that is going to valiantly win wars and/or solve world hunger. It just took them so many years to come close to having both of the mentioned things work together in unison.

In baseball terms, the overall music hits home runs and completes RBIs with an old-school death-metal sound, with the help of an in-toned death-thrash sounding influence as well. Yet, there is some plain ol' 80's thrash thrown in for good measure as well. That is used more in a catchy side, rather than a blazingly fast death sound. The album seems to start out with some fast winded heavy music, while moving towards the latter part with more of a mixed catchy side. I guess they figured their average fan doesn't have that much stamina, with the probability of a convenient store diet of a typical metal head being very high. Actually the whole thing throws a slated hooked notion, but mainly I just wanted to point out that astounding fact you. Don't stare down at your pouched stomach, just don't stare, nope, stop. I didn't want you to lose your appetite of a nice, delicious doughnut, glazed right back...Well, like I was saying, Drummer Arthur Vasconcelos, which has been involved since Anthropophagy, surprisingly throws in some blasted segments. Mixing some faster thrash hitting moments and of course leading the background beat to a mid-paced fist pumping fiasco. He hasn't gone this fast since first joining on Anthropophagy, shortly afterwards calming down on speed for Who Are the True and Ratrace. His snare has a little pouncing, slightly muffled sound to it. And they didn't go for an overly deep bass sound. Which gives it more of a purposeful, rude hitting quality.

Two new guitars enter on Tales From the Black Book, and cause a few listeners to leave from chronic neck related injuries. Like the sound on the drums, which have a loud and rough-around-the-edges playing quality. They use a select amount of reverb, which doesn't entirely blend them. But cause them to be present, distorted and unclean sounding. They use enough engaging styles to cause things to change and alternate. Without too much over-versatility or a false try-too-hard feeling. I mean, the album is going to be automatically compared to past releases when it comes out this many years later. They didn't forget solos. Which range from fret-board-hysteria to, well...fret-board-madness. They didn't venture too far out but find a niche with a more wild approach. On a few songs they decide to introduce a few wah-pedal solos, warping the strings, but this time making a sleazy, chaotic nightmare. Since Zhema is back on bass guitar duties, I kind of missed his prominent bass notes when he was using them in the 80s. But here they are more blended in with the guitars. I guess you can't ask too much of them this many years later, since this was probably more of a time-stamped feature.

What I was anticipating before listening to this, was how Angel's vocals would be placed. Along with each of the past Vulcano albums, he took a slightly different approach with however the music was played. Ranging in the past from rough singing to faster placed quick bellowing, and higher pitched combinations of screams and shouts as well. The vocals on Tales From the Black Book set themselves up with more paced movements. He still sounds like Angel, with his Brazilianified-Portuguese accent and sense for the rhythm of the song. Depending on the riff, he uses either a quick or sometimes an elongated response. However, the vocals are mostly quick and are streamed overtop of the riffs with a rhythmic pacing. Finding certain guitar fills and drum patterns that would make your neck start to creak, rock and then be cautionary to not have it roll. Technique wise, he takes full advantage of the reverb that is placed on his vocal chords. Using a hoarse and somewhat shouted emphasis. He is quite versatile at moments. Like trying to catch a chicken who is mistaken for being simple minded. But will give you one hell of a chase, with weaving and ducking when you try to predict where it is going to go next. Angel is far from being trapped, plucked, fried and is one fighting-cock who knows how to outsmart his extreme metal listeners. On some of the songs, it sounds like he has some distortion effect. With a mild leveling. The same distortion as you would place on an electric guitar, just in a much lower degree. Some bands can do this wrong, but he finds a middle ground and delivers his vocals accordingly. The distortion effect gives the illusion of a cheap microphone. Rather than going out and just buying a cheap microphone. Instead they record with a studio worthy microphone, then add this effect to it. So their options are more open with adding the effect later. If it doesn't work out, they can scrap it easily and work with other effects. That's how I would figure why and how they did it.

Returning this many years later, some bands reap the consequences. Possibly wanting to relive the experience and go for another go. Vulcano's Tales From the Black Book probably falls under these reasons. Although, I enjoyed quite a few moments of the album. It actually doesn't get boring and keeps pace with many different alternating beats. They didn't try to return with their most savage album ever recorded neither. That might range from being hard to just plain unattainable, for mostly any extreme metal band trying to accomplish this feat. Just look how many bands run out of demo songs after the debut and then produce a completely different second album. And this release is more than a second album away and is quite a time after in comparison. Furthermore, it is atmospheric and dark at the same time. Placing the songs in a death-metal and death-thrash trance and others right at a catchy piece that breaks the trance, by you possibly breaking your neck in the process. I won't hail this album as the return of the century and exaggerate things beyond belief. But Tales does open up some new possibilities for Vulcano coming back to your stereos this late. The accumulation of the album is ended by the last track, which is mostly in slow pace, in a doomy plodding for necessary comparison. Angel uses more powerful and spaced vocals to carry the goods. And then the music is ended by the same deep demon-like voice you've probably heard on the track Bloody Vengeance on the Bloody Vengeance album. Which shows that they can play a little nostalgia, while re-emerging with a new output this many years later.

Take heed of the Tales From The Black Book - 89%

death23, October 28th, 2006

After fourteen years on hiatus VULCANO comes back with its best produced album to date: “Tales From the Black Book”. Never known for being particularly technical, this legend managed to record a non-chaotic piece of work without losing the well-known spirit among the first Brazilian Thrash/Death/Black Metal bands of the 80’s. This new work is not a gem or anything, but it does show that their passion for Metal is still alive.

Interestingly, two new versions of the anthems; “Guerreiros De Satã” and “Total Destruição” which had only appeared on Live! are included on this album. What a great decision they made. These versions are obviously more polished than the ones of 1985, but remain undoubtedly obscure in its nature. Both are definitely highlights of this comeback.

If this band can be faulted for anything, it is their reliance on a sound and style that has been tried and tested countless times before, focusing exclusively on an approach that offers little in the way of originality or stylistical innovation that’s why the group's execution and songwriting skills never veers outside of a typical (but effective) formula.

To sum things up, Tales From The Black Book might have just been a warm-up for these warriors to continue devastating everything in their path which is exciting taking into account that a lot of metal bands of its generation have disbanded and some others have damaged their own careers wimping out. VULCANO never seems to have compromised its sound or integrity for commercial gain. And that is what today’s metalheads all over the world MUST learn and follow.

A good comeback, but not good enough... - 63%

metalbrain, September 15th, 2006

Most reunion albums still manage to surprise me for some reason, even though it's almost a trend now for old bands to reform. Vulcano was one of the top ten death metal bands in the fledgling Brazilian scene of the '80s, and this is their first album since 1990's "Ratrace". I'm only familiar with "Bloody Vengeance" (1986) and "Anthropophagy" (1987), and while "Tales…" doesn’t really hold up in heaviness or ferocity to these older releases, it's not bad as far as comeback albums are concerned. It's obviously Vulcano due mainly to Angel's signature vocals, even though they aren't as abrasive now as they were back in the '80s. If a different vocalist had been used, this CD would not have been so recognizable. The weakest aspect of this is easily the guitar solos, most of which are just too simple and uninteresting. The production is acceptable, leaving all the instruments easily heard, but is a little too clean-sounding.

Overall, this definitely falls into the death metal category, but the current competition is just too fierce for Vulcano. Perhaps being away from the scene for well over a decade put them at a disadvantage, but the band's current compositions are rather light-weight and just don't compare to bands like Sadistic Intent or Mortem. Part of this could also be attributable to having (I think) two new guitarists in their lineup, neither of which seems all that capable of writing truly dead-heavy riffs. Anyway, this is a mildly entertaining CD, but ultimately one most people can live without.