(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the debut album by Volcandra from Louisville, Kentucy. With cover art by the great Adam Burke, it was released on February 28th.)
Kentucky isn’t exactly a place where you imagine black metal springing from, especially good black metal, but new blood Volcandra are an interesting case study in that regard because not only are these guys really good, they may well be one of the most talented American black metal bands to rise up in the 2010‘s (I’m going to be pedantic and be that “the new decade isn’t till 2021“ guy). Quite simply, through channeling a combination of Norwegian and Finnish influences on top of an adoption of more American progressive death-metal window dressing, Volcandra may very well have released one of the first great black metal records of 2020.
Into The Azure takes influences from groups like Naglfar, Satyricon, Deafhaven, and Keep Of Kalessin while sometimes engaging in some technical death-thrash moments that really bring Revocation to mind, while also kind of capturing the more technical spirit of early Dark Tranquillity? Black metal is definitely at the heart of their sound, but there’s also definitely a TON of disparate influences at play here. It might be safe to call this band a blackened melodic death metal band more than black metal. Also reminiscent of Harakiri For The Sky.
Volcandra know exactly what they want to do and execute it beautifully. This album is defined by a constant driving melodic dissonance. All the riffs are big and bombastic and the drums are always minimum work for maximum impact. They like things simple, majestic, and overpoweringly layered with restrained usage of bursts of technical displays. The formula is engrossing for a band with so many disparate moving parts at play in their sound.
Vocalist Dave Palenske sounds like what you might get if Sven from Aborted adjusted his vocal tonality to black metal, and thus his voice sticks out quite a bit in the context of the sound. Guitarists River Jordan and James Demar are REALLY impressive song writers. The harmonized riffs and interplay that goes on between them is compelling and emotive. I dig all this quite a fucking bit.
Into The Azure is a staggeringly impressive debut. Any fan of more modern interpretations of black metal should check this out. I don’t think this album will be leaving my listening rotation for a long while.