Review Summary: An obscure Blackened Doom album that is often devoured by its own minimalistic approach, but nonetheless still proves to be enjoyable.
It's rather difficult to comprehend the logic that propels the music of Volcanic Queen
. It's an album that seems to be everywhere at once and nowhere at all simultaneously. And what I mean is that there are certainly a lot of ideas being expressed in this album, but there is no sense of coherence that orchestrates them into an appealing musical concept. There's a lot of ambitious experimentation being deployed here, but it often takes the listener into really enigmatic dimensions that tend to leave us feeling alienated, rather than intrigued. Like most Black Metal albums, Volcanic Queen
, emphasizes on executing a malevolent demeanor that is meant to disturb and daunt the audience, and in this particular aspect, it certainly succeeds in doing so.
The album opens with a gloomy mood setter, "Withered Upon the Stage", an ambient piece meant to slowly descend us into an ominous scenery. "Bi-Queen Zion of Babel" and "Die You Fucking Bitch!" are the two centerpieces in Volcanic Queen
, and the only aggressive moments in the album. Both songs are composed in a similar fashion, particularly with their usage of droning guitars that are clouded in harmonic dissonance for added volume and intensity. "Bi-Queen Zion of Babel" and "Die You Fucking Bitch!" seem to express a very Doom influenced sound within their instrumentation, we really see them favoring slower tempos and repetitive melodies that are drenched in excessive feedback and distortion. The vocals are where the Black Metal influence really stands out, the genre is renowned for the impassioned showmanship of its growling technique, and that's one of the strengths in "Bi-Queen Zion of Babel". Volcanic Queen truly delivers a menacing performance here, and the lo-fi production of the instruments only makes the animosity even more impactive. "Die You Fucking Bitch!", on the other hand deviates from the growls of the previous track, and incorporates a spoken verse section that dwells into a philosophical discussion. It's an interesting direction, but the message is at times undecipherable because it's decorated with feedback noises that are more distracting than embellishing.
In "Tombs and Scattered Bones", we find Volcanic Queen exploring a slightly traditional folk sound, which also serves as the main highlight of the album. The guitar work is very simple, but it's all the more inviting because of it. The melody is soothing and almost sublime in its own right, making it a very alleviating treat for the senses, especially after voyaging through the erratic chaos of the earlier songs. The vocals in "Tombs and Scattered Bones" are another interesting feature because it's really just harmonic breathing rather than actual singing, but it works very thematically with the calming sounds of the acoustic guitar. Theres also an audio sample of a passing train that can be heard throughout the song, it might seem like a random intention, but the sound actually enhances the dreary melody. It's an impressively orchestrated piece and because of its introspective sense of style, it's one that instantly gets into your consciousness.
Overall, Volcanic Queen
can be both a frustrating and rewarding listening experience. The choice of having a densely lo-fi production to the music is a prime example of this because at times it ornaments the ominous doom sound, but in other songs it can also be utterly distracting to the point of just being down right annoying. There's also a lot of ambiguity within the theme of the album, yet another example would be the concluding track, "Untitled". It's merely a recording of running shower water that in the end devolves into abhorrent noise. I suppose the water could represent a sense of cleansing, as the listener is washed away from the content of the album, but even then it still feels a bit out of place. In a way, Obscurity could be seen as the recurring theme of the album, but too much of it can really make the listener feel uncomfortable. And the minimalism of the music doesn't do the already limited accessibility of Volcanic Queen
any favors. Each song tends to follow the same melodic cycle over and over again, which can be hypnotic in the initial listen, but afterwards it just comes off as laziness. It would be much more interesting to see Volcanic Queen elaborate on their sound. There's a lot of ideas here, but the band really needs some guidance that helps them distinguish the good ones from the bad. And if they can improve on that in their next effort, we may be treated to something that is more exciting than just passable.