AlbumsFebruary 27, 20242,592 views

Volcandra The Way of Ancients


The Way of Ancients
1. Birth Of The Nephalem 2. Fouled Sanctity 3. Nemesis Confession 4. Maiden Of Anguish 5. Seven Tombs 6. The Blackened Temple 7. Not Even Death 8. The Way Of Ancients
2024 Prosthetic Records
Our score 8

by Jake
2/27/2024

Hailing from Kentucky - not the first place one would look for blackened melodeath - Volcandra are back with their second LP The Way of Ancients. While their output until now has been enjoyable and decently above average, it’s the sophomore album that can often make or break an act, so this is an important release in for them. Their Border World EP that was released in the interim was also an enjoyable romp through a few songs that dove into the lore of some of the bands' favorite video games, so it was safe to assume that there would be some thematic cohesion to whatever came next. The Way of Ancients is a high fantasy concept album which is by no means breaking new ground for metal - especially black metal - but it's how Volcandra deliver these tales that make this album a special one.

There are a metric ass-load of tropes and trends within metal which varies by subgenre and after listening to The Way of Ancients, it seems to me that Volcandra have managed to sidestep every single one of them. And if we’re keeping score (we are) that’s a very good thing. There’s no cutesy intro track that ‘sets the tone’ for the album. The tone is set by starting off the record with “Birth of the Nephalem”which is a fully self-contained idea that slowly ramps up the brutality until you’re neck deep in the world that Volcandra have created. For me, this is incredibly refreshing. And at the risk of sounding like a soda commercial from the 90’s, that’s not where the refreshment ends.

The Way of Ancients deftly weaves its way from song to song with a level of panache that is rarely seen in a band so young as this. There’s genuine depth to how these songs are written and interplay with each other and that is a skill that I personally think is lacking with a lot of current metal bands regardless of genre. 

“Nemesis Confession” is a perfect example of this where the song begins with lilting piano keys and ominous whispers before collapsing into a suffocating affair od cacaophonic riffs and vocals and the impact is greater due to the contrasting tones of the song. These dynamics are employed over and over again throughout each song and the record as a whole with the middle of the album being the most bleak and bookended by the hope of the beginning and the triumph of the ending.

Another huge upside to what Volcandra did on this record is how it is paced. This album clocks in just under forty minutes which is quite manageable in general but it feels wildly shorter when played in its entirety. I listened to this record countless times in a variety of settings and each time the journey felt succinct without a wasted moment. It’s lean and focused even with all of the grand moments feeling essential, never lingering longer than they should. 

Were I to have any gripes with this album it would be that I simply would love for the drums to be louder in the production as they feel a little subdued to my ear but the mix is quite well balanced and frankly, I personally just like the snare to pop a little more on a record like this. That small gripe aside, this album sounds great and the production generally serves the variety of genres that Volcandra manage to squeeze into this thing.

Bottom Line: Volcandra have been paying attention to what makes an album great and have followed that blueprint, not with clinical precision but with the ethos of craftsmen. The Way of Ancients is loaded with catchy melodic passages, great guitar work, a host of vocal hues all wrapped in a stunningly digestible, well-paced record. It surprised me over and over again and while the weekly flood of album releases can quickly feel like overload, I have a sneaking suspicion that this is one that I’ll be coming back to over and over again for quite a while. 
 


9 comments

Post Comment
Bortslob 50 days ago

You won't be going back to it as much as Zulu or meth. Both of which received a 9

anonymous 50 days ago

Cool band name if you are 9 years old

anonymous 50 days ago

Their band picture looks like it was taken in a Hot Topic photo booth.

anonymous 50 days ago

Dave has a huge hog and honestly it intimidates me.

anonymous 49 days ago

Almost Zulu level. Maybe if Eliot were still reviewing albums...

anonymous 49 days ago

" Volcandra have been paying attention to what makes an album great and have followed that blueprint" You're so gay it hurts my butt reading this ^

anonymous 49 days ago

Without reading this I can already tell it's much better than anything Eliot has ever done

anonymous 47 days ago

Cacaophonic lol

anonymous 46 days ago

Band name sounds like a Magic The Gathering card