They’re at it again.
In my opinion, Drudkh is by far the most consistent and prolific black metal band of recent times. Beginning with 2003’s Forgotten Legends, the Ukranian band led by the genius that is Roman Saenko has carved their own niche in atmospheric black metal. Often imitated, they have loomed large in the scene despite their utter lack of live appearances. The members of Drudkh have side projects (Blood of Kingu, Precambrian, Windswept) that have left a bigger impression on me than some people’s “masterwork”. While many will debate their mid era’s quality (Anything after Blood In Our Wells until A Furrow Cut Short), it is hard for anyone to debate that as a whole, Drudkh is a genre main stay, bordering on legendary. They’ve gone from doing small runs of CDs on obscure labels, to as “mainstream” as an underground black metal band gets doing large pressings on Season of Mist. Their records are in common circulation. Their merch is easy to get. You would be hard pressed to find a true fan of the genre completely unfamiliar with their work. While none of this necessarily speaks to quality, all of these characteristics of Drudkh are well deserved.
On their 10th atmospheric black metal full length LP (11th record in total), Drudkh pulls no punches. Unlike their recent split with Paysage D’hiver, they do not waste time playing with ambient sections, or let anything slow their assault. However, while Drudkh is certainly aggressive on Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About the Spring), it is not to the detriment of their melodic side. Riffs can plod along, or seem to come at 100000 mph, but always do so in thick layers of atmospheric riffing. If you’re familiar with Drudkh’s aversion to blast beats, you won’t find any surprises in the drumming here. However, the beats chosen are used perfectly to accent and drive the creative rhythmic approach that underlies every song. The bass playing is noticeable, which is obviously rare in black metal, and competent. It does not stand out, but simply serves to “thicken” the sound. The vocals are the Drudkh standard roar. They are not high pitched and screetchy like many black metal bands, instead sounding closer to perhaps Michael Stanne from Dark Tranquility than Varg or Attila. They are not incredibly emotive, nor unique, but they are powerful, and do exactly what they need to do.
It’s difficult to talk about the songs individually, as they stick to the tried and true “late period” Drudkh format. They tend to be long, ranging from almost seven minutes to almost ten. Each song is unique, but make sense together as a collection of songs. There are no clean vocals, outrageous guitar solos, or any other new tricks for Drudkh. When I first saw that this album was only five songs, I was disappointed. However, upon hearing it, I feel that it was a perfect length. No song outlived their welcome, and while Drudkh’s signature is very apparent (hey, it ain’t broke…), Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About the Spring), is still an evolution. And not in the sense of their “blackgaze” dalliance Handful of Stars, thankfully. This is Drudkh at their best; playing atmospheric black metal with no frills. As they’ve truly managed to trim the fat that was apparent on their last two full lengths, this newest album may truly stand the test of time as one of their best.
Releases 3/9/18 on Season of Mist
Don’t ask me for favorite tracks. Whole thing is nuts.
For Fans Of: if you like atmospheric black metal at all and haven’t heard Drudkh I can’t help you.