The leaders of the Spanish hard rock/alternative metal scene, Sôber, continue to school their peers on how this genre ought to be done. After a six year hiatus, during which splitting into Skizoo and Savia, Sôber release their third post-hiatus album—8th overall—titled Vulcano—one that makes up for the lethargic Letargo and one of the finest of their 20+ year career. Vulcano is 54 minutes of crunchy guitars riffs, soaring vocals, and all that you would want from an alternative metal album.
In the recording studio, the goal was to strip away effects and other studio wizardry to create a more organic and natural release. In many ways, this approach gives Vulcano a gritty heaviness that really showcases the instrumentation of this Spanish band. Vulcano, thanks to guitarists Jorge Escobedo and Antonio Bernardini, is very much a guitar-oriented album, augmented further by Carlos Escobedo’s powerful vocal display, while Manu Reyes’ holds his own behind the drum kit. Vulcano is an example of a band still at the top of their game.
Vulcano is hard-hitting, powerful, and uplifting from beginning to end. The opening title track sets the tone with its crunchy guitar riffs and soaring chorus. Powerful, uplifting, motivational, and melodic are additional adjectives that describe this song, as well as the entire album. Enterrado shifts towards a more 90s grunge sound, occasionally baring comparisons to early-Tool in the style of riffing and Carlos Escobedo’s vocals. Sôber has long drawn such comparisons to Tool, although whatever similarities there may be, they are only subtle. Irreal and Arena also share this sound, with an up-tempo rhythm and intensity. El Viaje and Estrella Polar, in contrast, are slower pieces, but among the most powerful of Vulcano. El Viaje has a majestic atmosphere, as violins and strong vocals create an atmosphere suitable for an anthem, while in Estrella Polar, a graceful solo builds a foundation that which allows violins, piano, and more of Carlos Escobedo’s strong vocals to expand upon. Vulcano never lets up at any point during its duration.
Vulcano is a straight-forward album that manages to maintain consistent quality and energy throughout. The eleven tracks that make up Vulcano are mostly similar in style, but there is substantial variety within each that keeps the album interesting. The guitars and vocals are particularly exceptional, especially for this style of music, which is often quite generic and derivative–and a criticism I have often had for this band–but definitely not the case here. Sôber should be very proud of Vulcano, being that is it one of their most consistent and vigorous. Vulcano is indeed recommended for those that seek straight-forward alternative metal, particularly in the Spanish language. Along with InMune, Sôber stand at the pinnacle of Spanish hard rock/alternative metal, exemplified by the tenacious auditory display that is Vulcano.
Genre: Alternative Metal, Hard Rock
Label: Warner Music Spain
Release: October 21, 2016
3. La Escalera
4. El Viaje
8. Papel Mojado
10. Estrella Polar