Drudkh - _The Swan Road_
(Supernal Music, 2005)
by: Quentin Kalis (
Drudkh's previous record _Autumn Aurora_ was the number one album as voted for by the CoC staff in 2004. Although it was unusual for such a relatively obscure band to top our collective list, it wasn't without good reason, as both _Autumn Aurora_ and its predecessor _Forgotten Legends_ are excellent slices of Slavic black metal, rivaled only by sister band Hate Forest's _Purity_ and maybe Graveland's _The Fire of Awakening_. Although my expectations were high for this album, I was far from disappointed.There are noticeable changes from the sound of their earlier work: some foreseeable, some surprising, but nothing of Kovenant-esque proportions. One of the more predictable changes is the increased reliance on folksy melodies; now they are present to a greater extent on most songs, culminating in the album closer "Song of Sich Destruction", a haunting track moulded along traditional lines. Less expected was the absence of all keyboards -- but the guitars have filled the resulting void with such effortlessness that their absence is barely noticed. Although guitar solos are not a new element to the Drudkh camp, their use has been increased, resulting in some brilliantly placed and surprisingly evocative solos. While its predecessor was largely mid-paced, on _The Swan Road_ Drudkh occasionally let rip with a blastbeat which would not be totally out of place on a Hate Forest song. Vocals are also closer to Hate Forest growls, and the guitars have less of an organic post-Burzum fuzz than on previous releases. Given the recent demise of Hate Forest, could the two bands be merging into one? They already share a member...I have my doubts as to whether Drudkh will come out tops for the second year running in our overall list, but they are definitely heading for the number one spot in my personal top 10 of 2005.
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