Eternal Turn of the Wheel

01. Eternal Circle
02. Breath of Cold Black Soil
03. When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls
04. Farewell to Autumn’s Sorrowful Birds
05. Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars

[Season of Mist Records]

The frigid howl of a mid-December tempest giving way to the serene warmth of what lay cloaked beneath the blanket of snow: both a summary of how Ukrainian black metal outfit Drudkh chose to open up their latest offering, Eternal Turn of the Wheel, and an accurate description of the evolution within black metal itself. Those that penned the genre’s blueprint had a particular mindset for what emotions would exist within their forest’s boundaries. Mayhem unleashed the carnal ferocity of winter’s bite, with anger gnashing like wolves thrashing about evergreen tree trunks. Burzum captured the atmosphere of emptiness and hopelessness, such as the dead cold of the still air. Above all though, Darkthrone created the essence of unending anguish, permeating the forest with desperate cries from those trapped in a blizzard and freezing to their doom in an indifferent heap of snow.

Yet through the lines of pointed green trees spattered with white, the shawls of snow have begun to slip off and disappear with the passing of time. Vicious predators migrate to more evil places, and more peaceful beasts arrive to inhabit the newly warmed land. It is that sentiment of warmth that the new wave has experimented with and made their own. Whether it is Wolves in the Throne Room’s embodiment of the forest’s majesty and vibrant life, Alcest’s inclusion of the harmlessly mischievous mystical creatures who allow the feeling of light to explode or Deafheaven’s practical urbanization of the forest with the city’s feelings of pulsation and wonder, despair and darkness have given way to hope and light.

Drudkh may seem like an unusual fit into the ranks of the latter group of black metal artists, what with song titles on Eternal Turn of the Wheel such as ‘Breath of Cold Black Soil’ and ‘Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars.’ However, when one allows themselves to be engulfed passionate atmospheres of these four expansive journeys through the new forest, the connection will become immediately clear.

The aforementioned introduction, ‘Eternal Circle,’ transitions seamlessly into opening track, ‘Breath of Cold Black Soil,’ a stellar example of the tones and styles of the record’s gorgeous textures. ‘When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls’ follows suite with some subtle tweaks, namely some interesting drum patterns that bring variety and synths that add depth. As the record’s traits begin to settle in on this track. The vocals of belter Thurios are first fully noticed on this track, specifically his atypical tenor bark contrasting with the usual soprano rasp present in the genre.

‘Farewell to Autumn’s Sorrowful Birds’ quickly obliterates the fading conclusion of the track that preceded it with a spacious drone dripping with reverb. The mood is best described as the results of emotions evoked by sunrise and sunset being spliced together and draped over the treetops. Neutrality dominates the entirety of the track, as the concluding riff relies on a bait and switch melody that is never robust enough to create an atmosphere nor meek enough to allow the song to become sinister.

However, on album closer ‘Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars,’ the submissive mood is prevalent enough to create confusion with the listener. Strong traits from genre past make their presence known at various points in the song, with an old-school riff here and a sorrowful key line there. A reprise of the freezing storm from the album’s beginning then adds further misperception to the mix. Yet just when all of the happiness seems to have vanished, a faint but confident emotive riff surfaces amongst the roaring winds and makes its presence known.

It is this moment that adds further depth to black metals expanding definition. The breathe of life will begin to wheeze when seasons change, just as the traditional methods of performing a genre will always resurface as new trends fade. That being said, Drudkh and their peers, just as every inner movement within metal’s subgenres, will continue to execute the same product with the same ethos and: superb albums like Eternal Turn of the Wheel that push the boundaries of black metal and prove that progression done right will only strengthen the genre.

Drudkh – Eternal Turn of the Wheel gets…


– SM


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