THE VOLCANICS - The Volcanics (Out of the Loop)
If the EP and its stand-out track "So Cold" hit like an adrenalin shot into a dying man's heart, the full-length self-titled album by this Perth quartet doesn't fall short of that same mark. A baker's dozen (one untitled cut is well hidden) of hard-bitten songs are here for your appreciation and it's a world class album, if a couple of tunes do persist too long.
Putting aside punk, Australian bands mining the hard rock vein inevitably fall into four categories: Over-the-top Zeppelin-esque parody; re-treaded heavy metal; chugging Acca-Dacca boogie that more often than not poses no threat or lacks character; and a more mutant strain of Dolls/Stones/Stooges blasting powder that goes by the misnomer Detroit. More a flag-of-convenience than a definitive tag, almost none of the bands labeled "Detroit" actually came from there. Plus, hardly anyone from Michigan has heard of them, much less believe you if you tell them about a parallel universe like Australia, far below the Equator.
Perth's as far removed from the Motor City as anywhere else in the world so you may as well tar The Volcanics with the same brush. The ingredients (extreme energy, loud guitars and confronting vocals) are here in abundance. A nice dose of jaw-jutting attitude - mainly via vocalist John Phatouros who's been listening to all the right singers - emphatically stakes out the band's turf.
There's a big dash of the Exploding White Mice in "Sweet Little Mama", a swirling maelstrom of sound that at 6min23s is the longest work-out here. It's the sort of tune that used to show the Mice were more than Ramones copyists. As far as The Volcanics are concerned, it throws Mick Whitby's fine guitarwork into stark relief. Plenty of other gold to be prised out of Lindsay Gravina's tough mix like "Let Go", the menacing "Foldline" and the swaggering "Save Me Compression".
"Cut A Slice To See You Walkin' " and the Hitmen-like "Don't Know What You Don't Know" are relative oases of calm among the sonic sandstorms and pace the album nicely. As alluded to earlier, a few songs do outlast their welcome and if there's a weakness it's the band's tendency to overplay its hand. A little judicious editing might have made this a classic rather than almost great album. But The Volcanics are young and have time to burn. It's a pity line-up changes (bassist Jason Cleary has walked but drummer Waren Hall is apparently back in after also walking) appeared to throw The Volcanics into mild disarray as they were considering an East Coast tour but they're still setting a benchmark that too many young bands could do well to shoot for.
The album does have a sting in the tail: The nameless hidden track - a stripped back neo-rockabilly stomp draped in reverb - is the surprising closing act. - The Barman
NOTHIN' FOR YOU - The Volcanics (Out of the Loop)
Damned if this isn't yet another of those releases without much fanfare but absolutely packed with rock 'n' roll emotion and unadulterated energy. If you have a modicum of taste, it'll make your feet move and your ears bleed. The Volcanics pack the sort of unbridled guitar attack that you wish all those shitty bands full of kids with dreams in their eyes and no ideas in their heads would pause for just one moment and listen to, if only because they might learn something.
The Volcanics are from Perth and part of a Rock Action Admiration Society whose membership boasts The
M-16's, the Limeburners, Capital City and a few even less familiar names. The common bond is that they all swig deeply from the same cup as Sonic's Rendezvous Band, the Hellacopters, Radio Birdman and the MC5.
Configured into bass/drums/guitar/vocalist, The Volcanics tread a well-worn path (Detroit) but manage to avoid the rut called slavish devotion. Just five tracks (wish it had been an album) but the full-length just has to follow. If it sounds like, smells like, looks like Rock Action, it probably is. Lap it up, sucker.
"Wreck Myself" is a monster tune, all hyperactive bass runs and drums under shitstorm guitars over John Phatouros' shitstorm vocal attack. I'm a sucker for a song with drop-outs and the dynamics are well evident here. First name to spring to mind was the Lipstick Killers, a revered one that's not used lightly.
"Foldline" relatively sneaks up, driven by a skulking Jason Clearly bassline and drummer John Tombides' accents. The title tune is up to it without registering quite as high on the Richter scale.
"Light the Fuse" is a Rockets cover that shows good taste and a sense of history (the Rockets being a Perth punk precursor scarcely known outside their hometown - now where's that bloody tape I had?) An obvious pun would be to say that it burns, so we won't go there. "Baby Soul" is simply a guitar pumelling. Sho 'nuff feels good. I might even like the production on this more than their close mates The M-16's.
There's been a steady stream of similar grooves of late - Perth brothers-in-arms The M-16's, Holy Curse from France and Detroit's own Back in Spades most prominent - and it's been truly great stuff. Chalk up The Volcanics' EP as another that should be on your 'must listen' roster. Gush? Who, me? - The Barman
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