Drudkh - _Blood in Our Wells_
(Supernal Music, 2006)
by: James Montague (
The essence of Drudkh's newest album is neatly summarized by the closing passage of the song "Eternity": a simple three-note pattern climbs and falls, hanging at the peak and the trough. A few kicks on the bass drum haul the carriage ahead, building momentum gradually, then falling down into the original three-note crawl. Again the music pushes forward, again it falls, then on the third effort the band holds the tempo and builds towards its climax. The ebb and flow, the natural cycle, and the lush, full sound give the music the sense of eternal struggle in a bleak, cold world. The gorgeous CD cover art conveys this message: the Ukrainian peasant and his horse, heads bowed against the elements, battle through snow and mud, dragging the peasant's sled, in which can be seen the pallid faces of his sickly children, and what could be the coffin of their mother.With its long, drawn out sagas, rendered in folk-tinged melody and crafted in layers of electric and acoustic guitars and subtle keyboard surges, the music sings of a people battered by hunger and disease, oppressed by human and natural forces alike. I am frequently reminded of Primordial's tales of Irish famine, though perhaps in less melodramatic tones. The despair is universal, but in Drudkh's vision hope persists and strong wills may prevail: "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" closes the album by picking up the melody of "Eternity" and filling it out with rich and grandiose textures, stirring the downtrodden spirits and promising that they can never be truly broken.Drudkh were always one of the better bands in what I would consider the second tier of black metal, but _Blood in Our Wells_ is the point at which they climb to the upper echelon. The simplistic but full-sounding drone of _Forgotten Legends_ has been fused with the more adventurous and surprisingly heavy metallish moments of _The Swan Road_ to create a work of melodic splendour and enough dynamic sensibility to reward the active as well as the passive listener. The word that most comes to mind is "immaculate": not a single note is wasted and every component of the production is expertly tuned to produce a fluid and all-engulfing whole. The end result is a vivid soundtrack to another time and another world; an artistic triumph by any measure.
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