Vulkan – Technatura

[Self-released, 2020]

Intro: Panos Papazoglou

It is now clear that Sweden and Norway are almost monopolizing interest in the broad field of progressive sound, with bands like Vulkan validating such generalizations with their new record. With their two previous albums, Mask of Air (2011) and Observants (2016) setting the sonic standard (if there is such a thing in Vulkan’s music), Technatura is their critical turning point, the album that will build their name and personality, as it is a big step for the band.

Being solid, mature and overall very interesting, Technatura is their best album to date, a record that leaves no promises, but undertakes to fulfill them.


 

Swedish progressive rock with personality, mature compositions and identity

This is an album that not only meets the expectations left by Observants four years ago, but leads Vulkan to the next level, where they can now safely move as any band that has created such an extremely interesting record. That’s because with Technatura, the Swedes not only surpass their previous albums, but also leave a legacy for themselves, a trademark and a turning point in their career. It’s an ambitious, multi-faceted, diverse album that puts them very strongly on the European map of progressive sound in general, with elements of eclecticism that balance between influences and talent. With the mainstream Scandinavian view of prog rock sound, they continue to enrich their compositional inspirations with some heavier touches which are emphasized.

However, the maturity with which they develop their ideas and build their songs is the strongest argument in favor of the excellent combination with Jimmy Bob Lindblad’s peculiar vocals. That is especially because this more alternative voice color is that special element that stands out and highlights Technatura and its masterful narratives. Although the album demands several listens in order to understand its compositional depth and unlock its secrets, it presents its dynamics upon first listen. Apart from the band’s high level of technique, it has to do with its structural components. Another element that takes the album off is that the lyrics are sung in English and Swedish, and the transition from English to Swedish in the middle of the album helps a lot with the flow.

The sound of Vulkan has a clear prog rock orientation, always with a Swedish flavor and analogue dives in the 70s, with durations that vary and keep pace with the experimental logic in unfolding their talent. There are psychedelic references, but also heavy passages reminiscent of post-In Absentia Porcupine Tree, but also of Opeth, who after the prog folk turn in their latest album, is an influence to newer bands of their country. From the opener This Visual Hex, the influences are filtered and echo in Vulkan’s identity. The concept of technology versus nature (foretold by the title) is presented with their respective expressive powers and Lindblad’s rich vocals. As mentioned above, the use of Swedish language in the middle of the album is the element that transforms the flow with tribal rhythms, folk rock passages and proggy eclecticism.

Overall, Technatura is a candidate for the lists of top 2020 prog albums, with Vulkan’s mature approach, adventurous compositions and the combination of memorable melodies and complex structures.

8.5 / 10

Panos Papazoglou

 

2nd opinion

 

The Swedish heavy proggers are back with their third full-length album which contains 12 songs and more than 60 minutes of music. Technatura is a long, tasteful journey between different moods, filled with powerful percussion performance, accurate vocals and tight production overall. There are songs sang in English and Swedish and the band uses a variety of instruments to create interesting soundscapes and textures. It is obvious that Vulkan is influenced by the prog / psych scene of the 70s and some modern bands like Mastodon and Tool, especially when it comes to the rhythm section. They’re great songwriters with an amazing sense for tasteful melodies, they’re not afraid to experiment and unexpectedly include some growls in the songs. The highlights here are This Visual Hex with wonderful use of flute and amazing drumming and the beautifully crafted ballad Blinding Ornaments. The rest is almost on the same level, and with each new spin you will discover a few more pieces of magic. Technatura is a truly inspiring, wonderful album from a very talented band. Highly recommended to all prog fans.

8 / 10

Goran Petrić