Drudkh is known for not doing interviews, photo-shoots, live shows or even having a website in this digital era. They are accused of patriotism and political extremism, even though this is in no way present in their lyrical themes. The band members’ faces remain hidden, their thoughts mere whispers in Drudkh’s music. They have as such been made famous for the power in their tunes alone, in a time when the personality of musicians are exploited and branding. Since the start in 2002 Drudkh has delved in Ukrainian mythology, legends and history, inspired by poets as well as nature mysticism. Their path started in black metal, but has along the road transformed towards pagan, with heavy Slavic influences, and nowadays Drudkh also carries more atmospheric and progressive elements. “Eternal Turn of the Wheel” is their ninth studio album, marking ten years of the band’s existence. The songs are performed in Ukrainian, as always, but the titles themselves are enough to make the mind wander into dreams.
As the album opens in “Eternal Circle”, I am immediately swept away by the dark bitter beauty of Drudkh. The completely instrumental piece, based around an acoustic guitar, lays out the perfect background for the journey ahead. Already the first note of “Breath of Cold Black Soil” is more aggressive, but in a cold haunting way rather than threatening. The Slavic rawness found in the voice of the singer, Thurios, claws to my chest, opening up wounds of loss and despair. The melodic path laid out draws my mind towards sharp mountains, nights without ends, wanderers without hope. Then comes a remarkable break from all this, as the other half of “When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls” is a weeping guitar, diving into a mire full of sorrow. “Farewell To Autumn’s Sorrowful Birds” picks up the more determined pace again, letting the drums beat like a tired heart. The title of “Night Woven Of Snow, Winds And Grey-Haired Stars” is enough to blow me away to a far distant place of open sky, as one of the most poetic titles I have ever heard of. The song itself smells of frost and shadows, where the children of long lost spirits mourn.
I am no great fan of black metal, but often say that great things can come out of it. Drudkh might be one of the greatest, if they continue to wander down this path, letting other emotional elements through their dark forest, like stray rays of sunlight through thick trees. The balance between influences is varied, yet fine, emphasising and contrasting the raw power of the black metal they spring from. Mostly I marvel at their use of keyboards, so sparse, but filling some of the cold silence without shouting it down.
There blows a wind, a cold dark wind, from the beginning to the end of Drudkh’s latest creation. It can be heard in the intro, as well as in its last breath. It creates a circle, in truth a wheel, to turn and listen to many times.
01 Eternal Circle
02 Breath Of Cold Black Soil
03 When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls
04 Farewell To Autumn’s Sorrowful Birds
05 Night Woven Of Snow, Winds And Grey-Haired Stars