Considered the first Brazilian extreme metal band, and by others the first South American one, Vulcano has earned their legendary stature on much more than that alone. Their ferocious mix of thrash and death metal embracing plenty of old school heavy metal essences, has ensured the band has been a constantly and eagerly devoured protagonist across eight variously successful and generally acclaimed albums since forming in 1981. Now they unleash their ninth full-length in the blistering shape of Wholly Wicked, a rampant unrelenting blaze of contagious aggression which predominantly feeds expectations but not as wholesomely as it breeds total enjoyment. The album puts skilled and anthemically voracious rock ‘n’ roll before originality, and in doing so provides a metal rampage hard to get enough of.
As mentioned Vulcano began in the early part of the eighties, and from their first single Om Pushne Namah, the band was luring potent attention and support. A demo and live album followed before Bloody Vengeance in 1986 began awakening even richer responses and awareness, the release tagged as Brazil’s first black metal album. The next three years saw a trio of albums uncaged before the band underwent a quiet period following a series of band problems and tragedies. They returned to action in 2003 with fifth studio album Tales from the Black Book released the following year. A split with Nifelheim followed in 2006 whilst their next album Five Skulls and One Chalice arrived three years later, a period leading to Vulcano hitting Europe with their live presence for the first time. Plenty of line-up shuffles have spiced up the band, as has another two albums, a live full-length, and another split EP on a growing recognition and acclaim of their music, retrospective and current. Now the quartet of last remaining band founder and guitarist Zhema Rodero, vocalist Luiz Carlos Louzada, bassist Ivan The Darkestt, and drummer Arthur Von Barbarian have expelled Wholly Wicked on the world. Like so many also not fully aware of the band’s earlier work, it is hard for us to say how the album stands up to what has come before, but on the modern landscape of thrash/death incitement, it is one maybe unremarkable but seriously exhilarating proposition.
With a low key release last year via Renegados Records, Wholly Wicked is getting its deserved global spotlight through PRC Music and goes straight for the jugular with opener The Tenth Writing. Riffs and rhythms instantly savage ears whilst hooks and mini grooves grip attention and appetite before the song bursts into a furious ear nagging charge. Guitars and bass provide a hungry web of provocation and enticing, the former also adding flirtatious shards of melodic intrigue and imaginative twists as the excellent vocals spew grouchy aggression. With the drums punching the heck out of it all, the track is a storming tempestuous start, not forgetting irresistible one, which swiftly matched in potency and attraction by Pentagram. A glam metal tinged start looms up on ears first, twisting on arrival into a barbarous and addictively compelling tempest of aggravated riffery and spicy sonic revelry, matched in spite by the rhythms. As suggested there is little brand new to mull over in the album and this song, but there is no escaping the imaginative and riveting weave the recognisable aspects are creatively woven into as once more little unpredictable twists and fluid changes in gait impress.
Both Daughters of Pagan Rituals and Infusion of Hatred keep ears and satisfaction ablaze, the first as virulently alluring as it is bracingly intensive. Every hellacious beat, torrent of antagonistic riffing, and tangy groove is incendiary to feet, neck muscles, and enjoyment. The track is irresistible, extreme metal hitting the sweet spot, here to not forge new boundaries but turn what exists into a blur of anthemic devilry with accompanying glory. Its successor reins in the undiluted attack of the previous song but emulates its raw and imposing hostility with a battery of brutal beats and carnivorous riffs bound in squirming sonic enterprise. The track is brief and unfussy, lacking creative glamour and pure addiction for ears.
There are some similarities between a few songs on the album, the niggling riffing of The Return of a Long Night already exposed and coloured well on Wholly Wicked yet entangled in fresh vitriolic and inventive exploits through subsequent songs, basking in the craft and maturity of its creators so it is never anything more than a passing thought as attention and appetite closes in on the next captivating proposal. Thirst for Vengeance offers familiar hues but from its initial groove alone, the song flirts with best of honours whilst growing diversity through things like magnetic throaty bass bait and greatly flavoursome vocals only pushes the excellent encounter into being a firm favourite on the album. For these ears, the best thrash is healthily punk, and the most gripping death, thrash seeded in its heart and this song has it all.
The crawling entrance of the album’s title track offers a new twist next, though it cannot contain the need to decimate ears and senses and is soon an insatiable and frequently twisting onslaught rich in classic metal enterprise and rabid anthemic war cries. By this point in the album, the body is already breathless but it gives no respite as first Tormented careers through ears and stomps all over the senses in infectious primal fashion followed by the even heavier barbarous savaging offered by Malevolent Mind. Each of the pair simply inflames thoughts and emotions, their essences of familiarity and unsurprising natures only adding to the thrills.
The album closes with the anthemic and hostile rampancy of Blowing Death, a mighty carnivorous end to one non-stop explosive ride. Wholly Wicked is like a roller coaster, thrill ridden and devilishly exhausting. Like such rides you also know what you are going to get but it does not stop the enjoyment and hunger for more growing with every trip. It might not be bursting with originality but Vulcano have provided one start to finish favourite.
Wholly Wicked is available now on CD via PRC Music @ http://www.prcmusic.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1314
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