Sunday, November 30, 2008


DRUDKH – “Songs Of Grief And Solitude” CD ’06 (Supernal, Ukraine) – Besides having a relatively short name that I also don’t know exactly how to pronounce, Ukraine’s DRUDKH have also eluded my detection for a number of years. It seems that they’ve issued 6 full length albums and one EP since 2003 and are on the verge of cranking out another in early 2009, now freshly signed to the Season Of Mist imprint. First things first. DRUDKH were apparently formed, like I said, in 2003 by a couple members of the black metal band HATE FOREST and in doing so, moved away from a…um…hate-filled type of black metal and into one celebrating nature & individuality. I say “apparently,” because this trio seems to be a bit of an enigmatic bunch. One of their very few press releases indicates that they have a policy of no interviews, no photos, no live shows, no internet presence, etc. Hell, I only discovered ‘em by spying this interesting-looking CD cover in a budget bin and taking a chance on it. Supposedly, some of this reluctance to mix with the general public stems from them being incorrectly lumped in with a suspect radical political/social movement that upholds such things as racial separation, etc. This is all a kind of dreary discussion and I hate to have to go into it all here. Still, I wanted to preface my discussion of the album with it because the band has, in tandem with announcing their deal with Season Of Mist, denied any kind of radical political affiliation & emphasized the whole individual/nature thing. I thought it fair to them to make that point here. I also found, much to my great surprise, that this CD is frankly one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time. Now I’m sure I have you really confused, regarding a disc by a black metal band as being “beautiful.” Well, I have a couple things to say about that. First off, black metal can be beautiful…in a sense…beautiful in terms of power, raw emotion and passion. The new HORNA is a superb example of that. Secondly, however, DRUDKH’s “Songs Of Grief And Solitude” is actually beautiful in a much more traditional sense because it is not black metal. Now you are beyond confused, and perhaps rightly so but bear with me. Seems that after the band’s 4th full-length opus, “Blood In Our Wells,” they decided to try their hand at a disc combining their interpretations of folksongs from their native Ukraine as well as themes from tracks on their previous records. This takes shape on “Songs Of Grief & Solitude” with the 3-piece shifting to all acoustic instruments and eschewing the rote black metal shrieks for no vocals at all. That’s right, this is a completely, utterly “wooden” album (how apt, as DRUDKH means “wood” in Sanskrit) of 7 stunning instrumentals. And, yes there are seven separate titles (which I’ll list below, as they are quite poetic-sounding) but this record is surely the type to be played in one continuous listen, as hypnotic and trance-inducing as it is. DRUDKH’s practice here (as I understand it is with their metal material, as well) is to develop a passage and then repeat it, adding small differences & progressions in texture until the listener is drawn away from their own mundane world and into that created by the music. No, you’re not going to hear acoustic shredding a la Paco De Lucia but I submit that the 36 minutes of this disc contains some of the most gorgeous unplugged guitar I’ve listened to in both recent & distant memory. Coincidentally, it’s also come to me at a time that I’ve begun to rediscover & enjoy the season of autumn, something that Racer ( and I talked about a little recently and it mirrors that season spectacularly. In fact, “Songs Of Grief & Solitude” has become a fixture on my nightstand, one of the most perfect CD’s this scribe has ever found for accompanying that late-night crash-out with a cool autumn wind wafting in the slightly open casement. But for all the peace & tranquility emanating from this release, don’t think there wasn’t a bit of a sinister turn at the corner of my smile as I ordered a couple of the black metal DRUDKH discs last night before I turned in. 9.5

Track listing: Sunset In Carpathians, Tears Of Gods, Archaic Dance, The Milky Way, Why The Sun Becomes Sad, The Cranes Will Never Return Here, Grey-Haired Steppe

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