I won’t pretend to know what life in Ukraine is like. It’s been a country in constant turmoil; a once strong state that has been conquered, divided, and contested all while struggling to maintain its identity as a sovereign nation. Aside from just a handful of bands, the country’s black metal scene was a bit late to define its own sound and it didn’t see much attention until the tail end of the 1990s and more so into the early 2000s.
Drudkh was at the peak of this wave, essentially the brainchild of Roman Saenko (Hate Forest, Blood of Kingu), the band would release their debut album, Forgotten Legends, in the fall of 2003. Drudkh’s sound translated as a more melodic evolution away from the more aggressive, driving style that Hate Forest would continue to toy with until their dissolution in 2004. Drudkh’s debut served as a starting point for a band that, much like Scandinavian black metal acts such as Bathory or Enslaved, would reach back to their ancestral roots as a sort of creative fuel to launch them into pushing the boundaries of the black metal sound. Fifteen years later, Drudkh offers their eleventh studio album, Їм часто сниться капіж (They Often See Dreams About The Spring).
Label: Season of Mist.
The bass is fluid: always doing something under the surface and occasionally boiling over into the front, helping to carry the melodies without being too overbearing. Overall, it holds the whole album together and, in cohesion with the grooving drums, adds an overall lymphatic experience from the album’s opening track to its audacious and abrupt conclusion. The vocals, as always, are delivered with fevered passion, adding new dimensions to the poetry of early twentieth century Ukrainian poets, continuing Drudkh’s tradition of using the words of artists past as their primary muse. Even for those that don’t speak Ukrainian (this reviewer included), the band has no problem transcending the language barrier to evoke a powerful emotional responses from the listener.
Drudkh have trimmed out the fat. They Often See Dreams About The Spring is a full on capillary action-packed affair: fluid, cohesive, and powerful. There’s no meandering; something is always happening to move the album forward, be it the guitar-driven melodies or the subtle wandering of the bass, the impactful delivery of the vocals or the forward pushing thunder of the drums. While the album clocks in at just under 45 minutes, it doesn’t feel that long. They Often See Dreams About the Spring is an album that leaves the listener wanting more and showcases some of Drudkh’s best songwriting in recent memory. They have finally fully captured what they have been experimenting with during more recent years and left their fans wanting more in the best way. I won’t pretend to know what life in Ukraine is like, but Drudkh have certainly captured emotions that can translate across barriers of language and culture on this one.