Saturday, March 24, 2012

Drudkh - Forgotten Legends

Drudkh is one of the biggest “underground” black metal bands that I can think of. When I say that, I mean that there doesn't seem to be very many people that listen to Drudkh that aren’t hardcore black metal fans like myself. I originally got this album just to review it. But when I listened to it for the first couple of times, I realized that it was going to be a long time before I would be able to give a credible and accurate description of it in text form. I never let the album artwork influence my initial thoughts on the music or my final opinion, but the artwork on this album is BEAUTIFUL and actually made me think it was going to be some sort of folk-influenced depressive black metal more than just pure melodic black metal. As far as I know, Drudkh is the biggest metal band to come out of Ukraine (which doesn’t have much of a metal scene that I’ve noticed).

Drudkh’s songs are longer than the average black metal song (usually being around ten minutes or so). But also, this is also their shortest album; so maybe this is a collection of older tracks that are were less record-label friendly and much longer. But of course that can be easily overridden by the quality of the songs (as done by masters like Opeth, Xasthur, Wolves in the Throne Room, Between the Buried and Me, and Dream Theater). This album in particular is not one of my favorites by Drudkh, but it’s still an album that I repeatedly go back and listen to.

The overall sound quality is pretty much what you would expect from any underground black metal band’s debut. But even though the sound quality is poor, you can tell that there was SOME work being done at the mixing board because it doesn’t hurt your ears. What I mean by that is that there isn’t an obnoxious amount of treble, none of the instruments are drowning out the rest of the band, and there’s not excess distortion making it impossible to hear what notes are being played. The guitars aren’t crunchy, which is something that I mainly like to see in death metal more than black metal. The guitars actually don’t have very much distortion at all; they have more of a metallic-roughness more than a sharp gritty sound. The chords that the guitarists play are atmospheric and (most of the time) very melodic which gives the music almost its entire ambience. There is some soloing that goes on, although none of the solos speak out to me as being incredible.

The vocalist is the hardest one for me to talk about (especially in a review). Because it’s not that I don’t like his vocals, it’s just that the combination of his vocals and the rest of the music don’t go together as well as it could. They do sound good together, but if the vocals were higher-pitched, then the music would be even better. Hopefully I put that into words in an understandable manner. You can tell just from looking at all of Drudkh’s album covers and song titles that there lyrical themes revolve almost completely around the worship of nature, which is my favorite kind of lyrical theme. Their drummer is good, but he’s actually not that impressive in this particular record; most likely because this is the band’s first album and they’ve improved so much over the years. His drumming slides out of time in several places, especially when he comes in fast and then slows down to match the tempo of the song. His drumming gets repetitive and boring after a while and is unfortunately distracting in some cases. But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t listen to this album, because the drumming doesn’t completely RUIN the music, it just acts as a weight holding down the rest of the band.

Aside from the drummer and the vocalist, this is an essential black metal album for anyone who loves the genre and hasn’t obtained it yet. I wouldn’t recommend this to the people who are new to the black metal world, but I would recommend that you keep a note of the name “Drudkh” so that in the future, when you’re more familiar with black metal, that you can look them up. Although not my favorite Drudkh record, it’s still beautiful, relaxing, and stays true to the black metal name. I would give this 15/20.