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| Some albums can be ripped and torn into tiny pieces of in-depth analyzation of every strength and flaw. I've gone on for hours about the dozens of tiny idiosyncracies that make an album good or, sometimes, bad. Gatsby's American Dream has released a record--Volcano--that completely defies that process. This is because no matter how many times I listen through it, the only word standing out to me is... wow.
No one who enjoyed the band's monumentally successful EP, In The Land of Monsters, didn't think that their next full-length would be nothing short of spectacular. Especially when the band signed to collossal label Fearless Records. Just about everyone who heard the tracks on the EP knew that this band could really rock us with a full album.
We had no idea.
This is the kind of album where you know what you're getting into before the first thirty seconds of Track One are through. From the moment "Theatre" started up, there wasn't a single shadow of a doubt that this CD wasn't amazing. The band's intensity, instrumental mastery, lyrical eloquence, uninhibited passion... mind-blowing.
With production by Casey Bates and Tom Pfaeffle, the band's intense flood of sound and originality is able to pour out onto our laps much better than it could with the EP. In spite of the guitar duties belonging solely to Bobby Darling, you are feeling the effects of a total symphony of instrumental explosion. The drums charge every song with an endless degree of impactive energy that are in every sense of the word... well, Volcanic. Basslines refuse to go unnoticed, pounding their way out of the shadows and standing front-and-center in the spotlight just as often as anything else.
The vocalwork is, of course, extraordinary. Nic has the vocal ability to grab you by your neck and yank you from emotional peak to emotional peak without ever looking back. In every quivering tone there is angst, anger, declaration of beauty... fervency. The back-up vocals flood the songs with a melodic gorgeousness that creates an utterly empyreal experience. You have never heard the "F' bomb" dropped with more poetic inclination.
This album is a roller coaster ride. An expanded replication of the broad range of levels we heard in the EP, Volcano uses different levels of energy coupletted with equal levels of passion to rip open our chest from the inside. Even at the most simplistic and quieted moments of the record, the sound is overwhelming. No matter what you're listening to this CD on, the volume level still won't go high enough. Acoustic guitar intervals are met with just as much power as the electrified moments.
It's difficult to name specific tracks that epitomize all that I've said. Everything is everywhere--there are no tracks that dip into mediocrity at any time. Yet they're all unique. Going from the almost jazzy, firestarter licks at the end of "A Mind of Metal and Wheels" to the garagerock-indie stylings at the start of "Fable"... you know what, nevermind. Genre comparisons aren't going to do any part of this record justice.
Part of me feels like a sell-out for not finding any part of this album to bash. But what is there? Undeniably innovative sounds and styles, uniquely passionate vocals and brilliant lyrics, guitar riffs that are varied and inspired, impactive basslines, and revolutionarily incredible drumwork. And they talk about volcanos, dragons, and other mythical monsters. Can you find anything for me to criticize?
There is truly nothing left for me to say for this record. I could sit here and spout out word after word akin to "incredible," "amazing," "unbelievable," "revolutionary"... the point is that this entire record, every last second of it, will blow your mind.
When "Speaker For The Dead," the final track that leads off with very reserved pianowork and distanced vocals before thrusting itself into the same euphoric rush of sound as the rest of the record, nears its completion... you pray for a hidden track. And when the brilliantly orchestrated noise that is Volcano suddenly drops out and fades off, leaving you in silence... the quiet is an unwanted, destructive entity.
This album makes you love your "repeat" button.
3) The Guilt Engine
4) A Mind of Metal and Wheels
6) The Giant's Drink
7) Shhhhhh! I'm Listening To Reason
8) Meet Me at the Tavern in Bowerstone
9) Your Only Escape
10) The Hunter
11) Speaker For The Dead
13) The Loosing of the Shadow