Release Date: Mar 13, 2012
Record label: Season of Mist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Despite the generic image of heavy-metal fans as long-haired philistines in denim vests who'd rather be throwing horns than thinking about their world, the metal community regularly wrestles with thorny politics. Sure, there are those who still embrace dragon or goblin talk and explore the complexities of getting the most stoned with the least amount of effort. But within the 40-year-old form, there are clear factions based on fundamental philosophical fractures-- Christian metal versus Christ-killing metal, populist champions versus elitist extremists, good old Southern boys versus idealist art kids.
For 46 years, the Ukraine remained firmly tucked away behind the Iron Curtain. It was a country afflicted with great turmoil and suffering, while it was subject to the grim and punishing Soviet arm that stretched out across Eastern Europe. From an outsider’s perspective, this gave the country a rather peculiar and mysterious allure, perhaps more so than any other Eastern Bloc country due to the deep, significant cultural ties it shared with its neighboring Russia.
Drudkh's latest is being touted as a return to the band's black metal roots, abandoning the more progressive flow of its predecessor, Handful of Stars. There's definitely something primal about Eternal Turn of the Wheel, a "back to nature" chill signalled by the wind and acoustic guitar duet of the short opening track, which quickly succumbs to the onslaught of distorted guitars, blasting drum beats and surging synth chords. The track titles (and, presumably, lyrics) echo this ethos, with phrases like "Cold Black Soil" and "Night of Woven Snow" representing the band's original texts this time around, rather than appropriations of Ukrainian poetry.
Ukraine’s Drudkh have always managed to merge just enough atmosphere, mood, aggression and melody into their well-crafted, lengthy songs. For 2012, Drudkh offer up Eternal Turn of the Wheel on Season of Mist. I was a pretty big fan of 2009’s Microcosmos, but missed the boat on the mixed reviewed Handful of Stars. On their ninth full length it should be interesting to see if their methods still hold true.