Drudkh – “Їм часто сниться капіж” (They Often See Dreams About the Spring) (Season Of Mist records)
Drudkh remain an enigma. Staunchly steadfast to their strict ‘no press, no pictures no performances’ principles all we’re left with is a stream of sumptuous releases with which to admire them with, usually with jaw-dropped in perpetual admiration.
They Often See Dreams About the Spring is the latest in a long sequence of albums from the champions of the Ukrainian proletariat stretching back to debut release Forgotten Legends in 2003. For those of us ‘who get’ Drudkh they can scarcely do no wrong and Dreams is another wonderfully artistic journey to the edge of the musical precipice.
Drudkh fly the flag for Ukraine like an over excited Eurovision fan. Everything they produce is determined in some way or other by their native homeland, drawing inspiration from great poets, writers and freedom fighters. On Dreams the focus is very much on Ukrainian poetic princes and the five tracks are inspired by the collective literary works of Bohdan Ihor Antonych, Maik Yohansen, Vasyl’ Bobyns’kyi and Pavlo Fylypovych.
The recent Russian elections, as ever carried out under a smokescreen of democracy – the ‘Heads I win’ ‘Tails you lose’ variety – merely reinforce much of Drudkh’s spiritual sentiments, although their stance is always said to be non-political. But without the music the words ring hollow and Drudkh craft some of the most exciting, energetic and effervescent rhythms you’re likely to come across, all blessed with a black metal richness and depth that you could serve to the gods.
This five track album begins in glorious fashion with the 10-minute ‘Nakryta Neba Burym Dakhom’ in which the contours ebb and flow magnificently and, as is usually the case with Drudkh, only sporadic sprinklings of vocals. These are soundscapes big enough to feed an army but towards the end of Nakryta, when the momentum is suddenly fired up and the rasping vocal cries blend together, the result is blinding.
‘U Dakhiv Irzhavim Kolossyu’ starts brightly with a repetitive groove but the mood soon changes into a slightly darker shade though the track stretches out at a good tempo. ‘Vechirniy Smerk Okutuye Kimnaty’ is another firestorm of a track in which the flames from Drudkh twist and turn as the temperature rises and the clattering cacophonous melee escalates towards the close of its epic journey.
By Drudkh’s standards ‘Za Zoreyu Scho Striloyu Syaye’ is almost a sprint although at close to seven minutes the Ukrainians still have sufficient time to embellish the landscape with familiar and distinctive grooves that could only ever have been carved by their hands. The mind-spinning intro that somehow takes you to a stratosphere where you almost feel you are looking down on the world is trancelike in its repetition and the vocals arrive later to shift things in a different direction before that groove kicks back in, almost taking your legs from under you as it does so.
Drudkh’s latest works closes with ‘Bilyavyi Den’ Vtomyvsya I prytykh’ which in many ways is not quite in the traditional Drudkh format with no long repetitive passage while the percussive powers are times are more pounding than is their usual way.
This album, Drudkh’s eleventh, is perhaps more engaging than more recent frostbitten releases such as ‘A Furrow Cut Short’ (2015) and ‘Eternal Turn of the Wheel’ (2012). While Drudkh is often seen as a one-man project in Roman Roman Sayenko on Dreams the line-up is completed with Thurios (guitar and vocals), Krechet (bass) and Vlad (drums, keyboards).
As Drudkh keep their profile lower than a snake’s belly we can’t be sure if they function in the full on corpse paint and studs side of the black metal fence. I guess not. With Drudkh you see, it is as always, all about the music.