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Vulcano - "Tales From The Black Book" (CD)

Vulcano - "Tales From The Black Book" CD cover image

"Tales From The Black Book" track listing:

1. Gates of Iron (3:01)
2. The Bells of Death (2:58)
3. Priestes of Bacchus (2:01)
4. From the Black Metal Book (3:03)
5. Devote to the Devil (2:22)
6. Fall of the Corpse (4:05)
7. Face of the Terror (3:19)
8. Guerreiros de Satã (3:01)
9. Troubled Mind (2:29)
10. The Sign Carved on the Door (3:14)
11. Obscure Soldiers (2:23)
12. Total Destruição (3:06)
13. Bestial Insane (7:53)

Reviewed by on July 28, 2011

"The heavy metal realm already has grindcore, so there’s really no reason to make a thrash album with overly short songs that all sound the exact same."

A full 14 years elapsed between the original release of “Tales From The Black Book” and its predecessor, but even with the fanfare of a comeback release so long in the making, the album has still languished in relative obscurity. To get the music out to a new fanbase and expose early Brazilian metal band Vulcano to a wider audience, I Hate Records has continued its re-release series by dropping the disc on North American fans.

Though the artwork and band description may create a sense that the album leans heavily towards death metal, the disc is almost entirely ‘80s style thrash with only a dash of extreme metal. The vocals are slightly harsher and more guttural than what is normally heard from thrash, but the guitar shredding and overall vocal style are headbanging thrash metal through and through.

Each song is generally short and to the point, with the tracks averaging between two to three minutes long. Unfortunately the constant rapid-fire drumming and riffing makes all these short clips blend together and sound the same. The problem is made worse by the faded and raw sound quality, which makes it hard to distinguish the vocal lines and results in an album with essentially no stand-out moments. Whether the underground sound quality was a purposeful decision on the part of the band to sound more old-school, or whether the production is just simply poor, is up in the air. The heavy metal realm already has grindcore, so there’s really no reason to make a thrash album with overly short songs that all sound the exact same.

A couple of fun traditional metal solos rise up out of the constant pounding like a throwback to an earlier era, which shouldn’t be surprising, since the band has been around since the early ‘80s and claims to be among the first metal acts from Brazil. Those solos don’t really carry the whole album, however, and the disc ends on yet another repetitive note with “Bestial Insane.” Vulcano switches gears on the last track and suddenly decides to try for an eight minute epic with more death and doom elements, but the constant repetition is bad enough that the track could have been half as long without losing anything.

With bad sound quality and short songs that all sound the same, “Tales From the Black Book” is a segment of heavy metal history that didn’t really need to be reexamined, and will likely only appeal to specific fans of early thrash with a few death metal leanings.

Highs: Some fun thrashy solos and an interesting look at what bands from the early days of the metal scene have done.

Lows: The album is massively repetitive and basically nothing stands out.

Bottom line: A repetitive album composed of raw thrash with a few death metal trappings and only a handful of redeeming qualities.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)