New Music

Melodic black / death metal band VOLCANDRA discuss new video games and sci-fi / fantasy inspired album on Prosthetic Records

Photo by Shaun Christopher
Louisville, Kentucky’s VOLCANDRA have announced their 2022 return, burning brightly with incandescent verve and an audaciously ambitious sci-fi inspired take on the black metal genre. VOLCANDRA are releasing their Prosthetic Records debut release in the form of a four-track EP, titled Border World, today, and we’re stoked to give you their detailed track by track commentary below!

Since their 2019 inception and a well-received 2020 debut full-length, Into the Azure, VOLCANDRA have steadfastly been honing their craft on both the live-circuit and in the recording studio. Across Border World’s runtime, VOLCANDRA offers a distinctively futuristic vision of melodic black metal – with lyrical tales of possessed mythical beasts, draconic cyborgs and mystical border worlds inspired by a deep love for video games and futuristic storytelling. All of these thematic elements are brought to life in stunning fashion by Varises Otak (Cattle Decapitation, Cryptopsy and Amon Amarth)’s cover art.

Produced in its entirety by Devin Harper at Nocturnal Audio in the band’s home city of Louisville, Border World’s amalgam of sonic extremity and melodious sheen compliments the band’s lofty musicianship – with guitar duo Jamie DeMar and River Jordan alternating between contorted rhythms and luculent leads. VOLCANDRA’s propelling force of Mike Hargrave (drums) and Dyer Keathley (bass) provide a resolute backbone to the EP’s more excoriating passages of black metal, allowing Dave Palenske’s vocals to sit commandingly atop Border World’s barrage of sound.

Disinterested in theatrics and forced mystique, VOLCANDRA’s latest slice of fantasy world building is a byproduct of the band members lifelong reverence for science fiction – which serves as a vibrant alternative to some of metal’s darker corners. The group have officially opened the portal to their border world, and the invite remains open for all dreamers and wide eyed escapists who wish to enter.

VOLCANDRA is: Dave Palenske – Vocals, River Jordan – Guitar, Jamie DeMar – Guitar, Dyer Keathley – Bass, Mike Hargrave – Drums.

Tallon IV

River Jordan (guitar): Tallon IV was an interesting beast to tame, this was written by me instrumentally, and Dave wrote the lyrics as well as every song on this release. This song began with the tapping progression that the song is pretty much built around. After that first riff though it was hard to know what would follow a progression like that. Finally, a thrashing riff got stuck in my head, which turned into a riff that begins around 1:00. The rest just spilled out into existence without much thought and when I played this song for the other band members, I could tell this would end up being an opener for the next release. It was everything Volcandra is as a band, crammed into a short, easy-to-digest package. When we finally jammed on it together as a band our drummer Mike added that odd beat at the beginning that alternates between the ride and hi-hats, it all made perfect sense from there.

Dave Palenske (vocals): This song (especially the intro) really gave me a futuristic science fiction vibe, so I knew the lyrics needed to coincide with that. During the writing process of this EP I was playing a lot of video games while being stuck inside during the initial COVID-19 lockdown. The story of Metroid Prime, which I sunk a lot of time into, really stuck with me. “Tallon IV” feels like a high octane adventure where you’re rushing through multiple, deadly terrains. So I can’t really imagine a better way to accompany that feeling than to tell the harrowing story of Samus Aran.

Resonance Cascade

River: The creation of this song was probably the most difficult and gratifying experience we’ve had writing as a band, our other guitarist Jamie wrote this one and did an amazing job. When we started jamming on the first version of the song, it came together like magic until we got stuck in the middle of the song asking “what comes next?” Finally, when we came up with the build-up crescendo during the bridge of the song, the structure was complete. Even after the song had been written, however, it needed something and we didn’t know what, we thought about trading guitar solos or perhaps shortening the bridge, but then we came to the conclusion that we needed to have our good friend Mike Low (Inferi, the Artisan Era) guest on the track. His solo tied the song together in the best way possible and we all are very happy about how it turned out.

Dave: “Resonance Cascade” is a total ripper that just builds and builds into this sort of emotional climax at the end. The story of Gordon Freeman from Half Life reminds me of this progression. So that is essentially beat for beat what the song is about. It tells the story of a horrible catastrophe that takes place where one must fight this uphill battle to escape, and in the end, finds themself in a distant alien (or border) world to stop the cause of the disaster. The first three-quarters of the song gives the feeling of that uphill battle and the last quarter (being the emotional bit I mentioned earlier) evokes this sort of intrinsic wonder of an otherworldly place. It was a lot of fun to map out one of my favorite stories in the form of lyrics over such a banger of a track.


Photo by Shaun Christopher


River: Colossi is a seemingly simple song, with a lot of parts and changes throughout that I felt made for an interesting tune. The instrumental part of this song was primarily written by me with some valuable re-writes by Jamie during the process as well. This song started with the verse and chorus sections that alternate between a breakdown and a classic black metal blast beat section. I felt like this one needed to be split up so we didn’t wear out the listener, the song needed a chance to breathe so we ended up slowing the song down a bit during the bridge with a clean section leading into a dreamy black metal hook, we wanted it to feel like a soundtrack to a battle with a giant monster, or a colossus if you will. This song musically tells the classic tale of the hero’s journey and I think Dave’s lyrics tell the same tale in a very interesting and fun way.

Dave: If you’re a total nerd like me, you’re probably noticing a pattern here. All the songs on this EP are based on video games. A lot of songs on our first album “Into the Azure” are based on films that I really love, but I decided early on that each song on this release can be based on a different game. “Colossi” is no different as the lyrics are inspired by Team Ico’s Shadow of the Colossus. This song has this looming feeling of dread that permeates throughout, and the lyrics tell the story of a young warrior who is basically on a suicide mission to resurrect a loved one. The further the warrior pushes into his journey, the more he begins to lose his humanity, but not all in vain. There is still hope for his mission, and the song reflects that with an ethereal movement that happens somewhere in the middle of the track. Victory is still achieved in the end but at a cost.


River: Guardian was actually the first song written on Border World, I wrote the structure of this one, this song came together quickly and didn’t change much from the pre-production of the track, but actually proved to be a bit of a challenge because of the relentless nature of the structure itself, this one doesn’t give much of a chance for you to stop and think. The first riff that came out to begin this song was actually the very circular repeating progression that begins around 1:30, the rest of the song was built and formed out of that idea. This song was meant to grow and change without the listener really noticing, I wanted this song to feel like a rollercoaster that doesn’t stop.

Dave: The first time I heard the pre-production track for this song I immediately fell in love with its melodic, and pummeling riffs. It took me a while to decide what the lyrics in the song should be about, but after I played through the masterpiece that is The Last Guardian, I was so inspired. “Guardian,” tells the story of a boy who finds himself in an ancient, and mysterious abandoned civilization. He must form a bond with a giant, yet benevolent griffin-like creature in order to escape. This song really has an upbeat triumphant melody to it. I enjoyed the idea of the EP ending on a high note which conveys a myriad of emotions these two characters go through on their harrowing adventure. The song, at its core, is about the companionship between man and beast. I think that can resonate with a lot of people, especially if you’re an animal lover like myself.

Melodic black / death metal band VOLCANDRA discuss new video games and sci-fi / fantasy inspired album on Prosthetic Records
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