Monday, March 28, 2011

Volcano - Mythology (2011)

It's been a good decade since Volcano has erupted on us with a new full-length, but they've kept busy in the interim with some live DVD releases and a pair of EPs. If you've never heard the band before, then you were missing out on another of Japan's untold secrets, a hybrid of power, speed and thrash metal which musters comparison to countrymen Anthem and Loudness, only with a far ballsier tone and huge, pissed off vocals that feature a strain of forced melody not unlike Flemming Rönsdorf (ex-Artillery). The band's first two albums Violent and Davi were evidence of an authentic riffing titan, and probably deserved a lot more recognition than they received. Mythology is cast in much the same mold, and though I didn't enjoy this quite so much as its predecessors, there's still a strong case to be made for the band.

One aspect I didn't enjoy here is the sparse use of melodeath vocals. A few of the tracks like "Dead Men Tell No Tales" certainly tread that territory musically, but I feel that Nov's vocal presence is so strong in of itself that such a tactic feels unnecessary. They are, however, an exception to the rule, and for most of the playtime he's cruising along with his standard style. The band does incorporate a fair amount of variation into their composition. Personally, I favor the rampant melodic power/thrash of "The Head", "Warrior's Play", "Goddess", "Strange the Strong" and especially the escalating "Shine in the Dark", which opens up with clean guitars and explodes into an amazing sequence of riffs not unlike something you'd hear from Concerto Moon. But they do deviate, as with the groove-oriented "Claim" and its series of generic, groove metal rhythms before the one decent guitar line at about :50. I also don't exactly love "Hell in the Paradise", but it has its moments.

Otherwise, Mythology is a modestly crushing good time with a thick low-end centric production and a lot of great, neo-classical guitar lead breaks with attitude that may very well thrill fans of Double Dealer, Sly, Saber Tiger, Sex Machineguns, Galneryus, and so forth. The material is more complex than their past albums, and this in part might be due to the new rhythm section of Akira and Shun (Youthquake) that joined the band in 2010. I felt that this was a more hectic experience than what I was expecting, but that didn't lead to an increased impression, and I don't feel like I'll get much distance out of this. It's fun for a few listens, with a handful of riffs to die for, but is unlikely to expand the trajectory of the band, especially after a decade of such scant output.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

No comments: