Drudkh – Їм часто сниться капіж [They Often See Dreams About the Spring] (2018) REVIEW

Who would envy a listener just discovering Drudkh in 2018 as their eleventh full-length lands atop a bevy of split releases and numerous side-projects. The ambitions of the four musicians involved since 2006 have been so inspired and prolific that it is no wonder ‘They Often See Dreams About the Spring’ took roughly three years to fully form. Formed from members of Hate Forest and Astrofaes roughly 6-7 years after they’d toiled away at a questionable reinvention of atmospheric black metal in Hate Forest, it seemed Drudkh would be a pagan/folk variant of that ideology. In fact the duo of Roman Saenko and Thurios made such waves with records like ‘Autumn Aurora’ and ‘Blood in Our Wells’ that credit is due for their hand in shifting the conversation worldwide towards atmospheric black metal and greatly expanding it’s guitar language. ‘They Often See Dreams About the Spring’ is an attempt to pull out of a bit of a compositional rut that began after their eighth album ‘A Handful of Stars’ and they mildly succeed.

There are three eras of Drudkh to consider here and whether you fall into any of them or enjoy all of them you have to admit a clear need for a new tonal shift in their discography. I firmly plant my feet in their work up to and including ‘Microcosmos’ with a heavy preference for the ‘Autumn Aurora’ and ‘Відчуженість (Estrangement)’ because each represents a peak in inspiration for what variations would come afterwards. When considering where ‘They Often See Dreams About the Spring’ fits into these peaks, I almost feel like it is a softly strangled peak above the saccharine Alcest-like despondency that ‘A Handful of Stars’ lead with. Some increased aggression and general coldness wrestles the space-faring blackgaze moments away just often enough. I think some of this comes from Thurios‘ involvement in the guitar performances, something he hadn’t done since ‘A Handful of Stars’ and his direction seems to amplify softness and heaviness alike.

The style here is sometimes too close to Saenko‘s approach on the very Hate Forest feeling Windswept album from 2017, ‘The Great Cold Steppe’ which featured everyone from Drudkh excepting Thurios. On some level I’d happily skip out on Drudkh for more of Windswept‘s stripped-down atmospheric black metal style if it wasn’t for the horrendous drum sound. I really feel like these guys could make this style of music in their sleep after over 12+ albums of variation, and the extended and repetitive structures of ‘They Often See Dreams About the Spring’ blur themselves in the same way that the last few Drudkh albums did. Is it devolving into self-parody that doesn’t match the efforts of the bands they’ve influenced? Not quite, but I think students will overtake their masters the longer Drudkh stalls on new influence and vision.

The lyrics are pulled from 20th century Ukranian poets. I think the most striking imagery comes from Bohdan Ihor Antonych, but I’ve only cursory internet translation to work with. Each poem offers a weighted meditation that centers around a time of day and evokes a feeling of being swept within conflict, or the impossibility of existing without being conscious of it. Of course it is my own interpretation but the curated message reads as appreciation of beauty amidst the restless fear of war. The tonality, conception and larger possibilities of meaning do a lot to extend the value of this eleventh Drudkh full-length.

As you could expect, with their discography considered, the songs all flow together and there is a dream-like twinkle to it all. Some additional pangs of aggression and roughly nine minute song-lengths make for a ‘dynamic enough’ experience for me, though by the fourth listen I was itching to either to jump over to ‘Autumn Aurora’ or move onto something else entirely. At some point a new boldness is worth alienating an implanted legacy. I enjoyed the album regardless.

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Artist Drudkh
Type Album
Released March 9, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow Drudkh on Facebook
Genres

Your heart is a blackened hell. 3.0/5.0

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