Review Summary: a return to form.
was yet another observation by the allusive Ukrainian group Drudkh, and although it furthered their standing as one of the only black metal bands who can incorporate folk into metal without coming off as sickeningly lame, it did not retain appeal to the extent of earlier works, namely their seminal Blood in Our Wells
. Obviously having learnt from their lapse in consistency, Microcosmos
delivers on all levels; the classic Drudkh style of intertwining melodies interspersed with clever acoustic interludes is exemplary, with the added benefit of tight and well formulated song-writing emphasizing the album’s poignancy.
The four songs that comprise the brunt of the album are book ended by two short instrumental pieces, which both open and close the album on a gentle note. The in-between however, is a combination of aggressive riffing and despondent melody, although not without the added fragility that is a given with Drudkh. ’Distant Cries of Cranes’ immediately throws the listener into the album’s bleak atmosphere, and the variation herein, particularly the deconstructed interlude towards the end in which the bass leads the way, keeps the song undeniably interesting and on edge.
Despite having already heard it outside the confines of the album, ‘Everything Unsaid Before’ fits in perfectly with the album’s overall quality, opening with a harrowing lead that fluidly tapers out into the structure of the song. ‘Decadence’ and ‘Ars Poetica’ have no shortage of Drudkh’s subtle touch of frailty, and one would be hard pressed to proclaim any one of the four songs as significantly better than the others.
What comes naturally to Drudkh, and is perhaps portrayed more clearly on their ‘better’ records, is their compositional cohesion – the simple amalgamation of melody and technicality (or really, the lack thereof) is remarkably pleasant on Microcosmos
, and the somewhat lengthy tracks go past without a moment’s notice. Pick any melancholic lead on the album (or even their shred-like solo on ‘Distant Cries of Cranes’), and the context in which it is used is relatively perfect – it could not be bettered in any shape or form. The aforementioned lead in ‘Everything Unsaid Before’ is a fantastic example of the band’s exemplary song-writing, where everything gels together without a single hitch in ambiance.
From the slow and mournful tone of ‘Decadence', to the somewhat unrestrained and folksier feel of ‘Ars Poetica’ and the unrelenting nature of ‘Everything Unsaid Before’, you can be sure that Microcosmos
does not drift off into the mundane in its musical conveyance. It could be argued that the understated drone influence more commonly associated with Drudkh’s music is somewhat diminished on their latest record; this may put off long time fans, but it would be a hard stretch to say that their music has changed very much at all, or at least for the worse. Nevertheless, one should not expect the hypnotic and tranquil feel of Drudkh’s music to be absent – it is still here, and in full force.
It comes as a relief that Microcosmos
is so well put together – by this stage, weaker bands would undeniably be struggling to put out material rivaling their best work. Drudkh clearly state with this record that they are not one of these weaker bands, nor do they feel the need to drop into the confines of mediocrity to keep their name afloat. Microcosmos
, as mentioned earlier, delivers on all levels – as a black metal record, as one which incorporates the band’s signature folk influences, and as an affecting piece of music. Perhaps not their best work, but the album will no doubt appease fans both old and new. Highly recommended.