Tales from the Black Book

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Nearly 15 years after their demise, an improbable resurrection afforded Brazil's Vulcano a luxury of unprecedented proportions: recording an album whose production standards could be said to satisfy minimal professional conditions one might expect from most every heavy metal album. That album was 2004's Tales from the Black Book, their sixth overall and, in every other sense, a faithful throwback to the band's original mid-'80s efforts -- all of which got by on sheer energy and volatile creativity in lieu of audio fidelity. So at peace with that past, in fact, that both "Guerreiros de Satã" (Satan's Warriors) and "Total Destruição" (Total Destruction) are re-recorded oldies first heard on Vulcano's seminal live album from 1986 -- yet they fit right in with the new material on display here. This begins with an amusingly mispronounced and mostly nonsensical opening recitation launching "Gates of Iron," and proceeds through a slew of teeth-gritting, old-school thrash mash-ups tinged with black metal scuzz, and slathered in occult lyrics. Many of these ("The Bells of Death," "Fall of the Corpse," "The Sign Carved on the Door," the rehashed cuts above) will leave listeners yearning for the dark and deafening pleasures of a brutish but simpler time in metal; and to that end, the absolutely glorious "Devote to the Devil" has it all: a grammatically questionable title, a classic, Motörhead-style accelerated four/four speed metal beat, and a flashy closing guitar solo filled with cascading notes, string-bending swoops and whammy-bar dive-bombs. All told, it epitomizes both Tales from the Black Book and Vulcano's longer legacy, and will hopefully provide the opening portal for later-day fans to enter their evil realms.