Drudkh - _Handful of Stars_
(Season of Mist, 2010)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (
Never having been a huge fan of Drudkh's early work, I stumbled upon _Estrangement_ a while back and, having enjoyed their pleasantly meandering take on black metal, I have my eye (or is it ear?) out for their new releases. Last year's _Microcosmos_ was a bit bland for my taste, but the more _Handful of Stars_ stays in my audio periphery, the more I appreciate it.There is a slight but noticeable change of direction, with the guitars being much cleaner this time round and with more slow paced passages than the band has gotten us used to. If anything, it reminds me a lot of late '90s output from the German Prophecy Productions label, with a pinch of Norwegian and Germanic black metal to spice things, all tossed nicely in Drudkh's Ukrainian pot.The band stays with the four song format (plus intro and outro -- which is so early '90s, I am sure these extra two minutes can fit nicely in the proper songs), each extending to the almost ten minute mark. One or two main riffs make up each song, but Drudkh still haven't lost the knack of making these riffs interesting enough that the songs never outstay their welcome. "Downfall of the Epoch" kicks off the album without much fanfare, but it is the fast paced and very emotional "Towards the Light" that is hands down the best track in the album. In its almost Wolves in the Throne Room fury-infused melody, it manages to express everything this band seems to be about. "Twilight Aureole" is as interesting, though not as heart pounding fast.Some will object to the changes in the musical approach, but for people who like to see some semblance of evolution, _Handful of Stars_ is just fine. It would have been nice if the band had paid more attention to the bass lines (which are very boring) and the drum sound (which is a tad flat). Overall though, _Handful of Stars_ is a very good album, and if you are a fan of the genre, it must be in your collection already.
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