Let’s be clear from the outset, this is not a “new” Drudkh album, rather it is a compendium of Ukrainian black metal poetry pieces which have previously been released across three split EPs. As such, the material will probably be familiar to the more committed fan, but this collection brings things together nicely and I have no doubt that the dedicated Drudkh hordes will be clambering to get their hands on a physical copy of this (cassette or CD digipack – Sadly no vinyl).
The album starts with a trip back to 2016 and Drudkh’s split with Norwegian black metallers Hades Almighty, ‘One Who Talks With The Fog / Pyre Era, Black!’. Inspired by the work of Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Svidzins’kyi, ‘Golden Horse’ and ‘Fiery Serpent’ are built around the key elements of Drudkh’s sound with epic soundscapes and sweeping melodies but they are a little more direct than a lot of the back catalogue with blast beats and abrasive vocals to the fore, particularly on the opening track.
Shortly after the split with Hades Almighty, another collaboration was released, this time in the form of ‘Betrayed By The Sun / Hägringar’ with Swedish enigma Grift and it is here that ‘A Few Lines in Archaic Ukrainian’ visits next with ‘His Twenty-Fourth Spring’. Using lyrics written by 20th century Ukrainian poet Bohdan-Ihor Antonych, this track is a little more typical of Drudkh, as intense as it is mesmerising, intertwining atmospheric layers into nine minutes of uncompromising black metal. Without pausing for breath, the album goes straight into ‘Autumn in Sepia’. woven around the poetry of Mike Johansen (who resided in Drudkh’s home town of Karkhiv during the first portion of the 20th century) where sublime melodies create a rich tapestry of sound yet the prevailing mood remains bleak.
The final two tracks, are culled from the ‘Somewhere Sadness Wanders / Schnee (IV)’ split with Swiss atmospheric black metal project Paysage d’Hiver. First is ‘All Shades Of Silence’ and over the course of thirteen minutes this behemoth slowly builds paying homage to Yevhen Pluzhnyk, upon whose work the track is based. Scything riffs and pummelling percussion create an oppressive mood before giving way to a four minute ambient interlude, following which the track rebuilds to a pensive climax.
The album is brought to a close with the more abrasive ‘The Night Walks Towards Her Throne’ (with lyrics penned by Maik Yohansen). The cold riffs and harsh vocals evoke a colder atmosphere than the rest of the album, while maintaining a sweeping majesty, aided in part by the choral backed climax.
This is a powerful, evocative release of atmospheric black metal and nicely pulls together tracks which may have previously slipped under the radar. Highly recommended.
(8/10 Andy Pountney)