Volcanic Rock

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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia

In a genre hardly recognized for its finesse, Buffalo's second album, 1973's aptly titled Volcanic Rock, was about as raw as heavy metal got in the early 1970s (and its cover art's barely concealed eroticism sparked a controversy all its own, but that's another story). Of course, as those well versed in matters of hard rock and metal well know, all of its crudity was absolutely intentional. This seeming contradiction is both epitomized and explained by the Sydney, Australia combo's signature single, "Sunrise (Come My Way)," which boasted unquestionable melodic sensibility and expertly dangled hooks beneath the coarse leather surface of guitarist's John Baxter's earth-rumbling fuzz distortion, and singer Dave Tice's simultaneously warm, soulful, and, when needed, borderline ragged voice. Next track, "Freedom," pays peremptory lip service to the "think big" mentality of then ultra-popular progressive rock (and the band's prog-loving label, Vertigo), but never succumbs to the genre's arrogant self-indulgence. Rather, much as they do on the mostly improvised studio jams "Till My Death" and "The Prophet," the rhythm section of bassist Pete Wells (later of Rose Tattoo) and drummer Jimmy Economu plants its hooves into honest, proletarian blues-rock mud and stays put. Actually, the mid-album vibe almost gets too basic and laid-back come the unremarkable "Pound of Flesh," but any serious concerns are quickly crushed under the stampeding, LP-closing eruption of "Shylock," which introduces Shakespeare to Black Sabbath by way of Budgie and Steppenwolf) and brings Volcanic Rock's most distinctive and powerful qualities full circle for an explosive finale. And, as had originally been instructed on their debut album before being reiterated here, Buffalo's peculiar brand of Volcanic Rock achieved best results when played even louder.

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