Tales From The Black Book (Reissue)
posted on 3/2009 By:
Returning Brazilian thrashers Vulcano originally released this one back in 2004, their first release in nearly fifteen years at the time. (Since then, they’ve also unleashed a split with Nifelheim.) Back then, Tales was released on Renegados Records, and then in 2007, it was reissued with two bonus tracks on Proselytism, and now here we are in 2009 with a third issue courtesy of Sweden's I Hate, which marks the first time that this album has been available outside of South America.
Because of that lack of stateside exposure, I was far more familiar with Vulcano in name than in actual musical output. I have records by Holocausto, Mutilator, Sarcofago, and of course, Sepultura, but none by these fellow Brazilians. Those familiar with classic Brazilian thrash will know what I expected when I signed up for this—raw tunes, blazing fast and careening on the edge of complete collapse. Knowing that traditionally Brazilian thrash is largely under-produced and chaotic, it’s a welcome surprise that on Tales, Vulcano sounds professional and tight—albeit still appropriately raw and punkish—as they blitz through these thirteen tracks of Slayer-meets-Master death/thrash. The snare drum is a bit dry, and the kick drum could be punched up a bit, but the guitars sound good, and the cymbals are especially crisp and clear. The bass guitar is actually audible and helps round out the record in terms of frequency, which is pretty much what a bass guitar was designed to do. Angel’s vocals are confined to a ragged death-like growl, raw and snarling, closest on my comparison shelf to that of Paul Speckmann. A few of the songs are in Portuguese, but mostly Vulcano stick to English, with lyrical matter decidedly blackened and "evil." Although it’s largely a speed-frenzied affair, Tales has several tunes that drop down into a mid-tempo lumbering gait, which is a nice (and quite literal) change of pace. Some Slayer-like frantic guitar leads crop up from time to time, particularly the noisy solo in "Guerrieros de Sata" and in "The Bells Of Death."
In probably fifty listens over the last month or so, I can say with certainty that Tales is a grower, but I can also say with certainty that it isn’t a knock-out. My initial reaction was just above indifference, and as I dug in, I heard more to these tunes than I had in the beginning, but still, I can’t get past that first impression of lackluster songwriting. At best, Tales is a good record that doesn’t quite reach the upper echelons of awesomeness—I’ve heard many, many albums that are far worse (including some highly regarded efforts by Holocausto and Mutilator), but I’ve heard some that are better, more varied, more immediate. (For a death/thrash record that trumps this one, check out the latest Master effort.) Vulcano were pioneers in their country, and it’s good to see them returning some twenty years later and doing so with a solid effort and higher-profile distribution to boot.
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