Against Selfishness: A Conversation With Lucas Gadke of VÖLUR

The Toronto trio present a message with a folk driven effort of ambitious musical breadth.

Photograph by Matt Williams

For as varied as bands have approached the different subgenres of doom metal, few do it quite as grand as our subject today, that being VÖLUR. With a pairing of electric violin and haunting atmospheres, the trio implement a rather tantalizing listening experience, as evident on the band's forthcoming full-length, Death Cult. Arriving on November 13th via Prophecy Productions, Death Cult finds VÖLUR at their best yet. Their signature folk and modern classical influences are on full display with song structures that vary in scope as they tell a story of human sacrifice, one inspired by the works of Roman historiographer, Tacitus. To visualize said story, VÖLUR have entrusted Marie Cherniy for a cover that speaks to the themes presented here in an eloquent manner.

We talk to bassist/vocalist Lucas Gadke about all things Death Cult as we inch closer to the album's release date:

We’re just a few weeks away now from the wondrous ‘Death Cult’ and we must say that you’ve crafted a magnificent outing that so eloquently captures the breadth of where metal can go. One could categorize the record as post-doom or doom in general, but it would be doing a disservice to what you’ve put together here. Where you are all as a band now compared to when this all began with 2015’s ‘Breaker of Oaths’?

Gadke: Well, in the past five years there’s been quite a few changes. Aside from the fact that we’re all currently locked in hyperbaric chambers patiently awaiting the end of the pandemic, we’ve also got a new drummer. Justin Ruppel joined the band in 2019, right before we went down to play some shows in the Northeast part of the United Staes. We parted ways with James Payment amicably as our lives were heading in different directions. Justin is able to bring the same kind of power that James was able to deliver, but he also has a jazz background which frees us up to do some more wild and weird stuff. Overall, I’d say we’re continuing on our experimental path. The problem is, albums take so long to make that by the time you’re ready to release one, you’re already on to the next thing. So we’ve changed a lot since 2017’s 'Ancestors', but we’ve changed further still since we recorded 'Death Cult' in 2019.

Dmitry Bondarenko Volur Doom Metal
Cover art by Dmitry Bondarenko

The variety of elements that flow seamlessly throughout ‘Death Cult’ speaks to the talent lying within your ranks. One could simply force elements into a composition for the sake of being ‘unique’ or trying something different, yet this isn’t the case for you. Musically, how do you approach the composition of the tracks so that these styles coalesce organically?

Gadke: It may be trite, but I think you have to look at all the different music elements at your disposal like a painter looks at his palette. Initially when we started the band, I was interested in exploring contrasts in heavy/loud versus soft and intimate, much like many other funeral doom bands do. But to continue the hack simile, there are different chromatic tones to be explored. You can be soft and use a free jazz sound, you can be loud and play folk. There’s a wide world of sounds at your disposal. Now of course, as you said, the key is to not throw all these elements in a blender and end up with a faceless, tasteless sludge (now we’ve moved on to food). You have to carefully consider the arc of the piece. I consider it helpful to have a theme or a concept in mind when I write. But there’s also a balance because