Review Summary: Haunting, mesmerizing, and ethereal, Songs Of Grief And Solitude proves that Drudkh can do as much with an acoustic guitar as with its electric equivalent.
Drudkh was always a bit different from most of their black metal brethren. One could sit down alone, in a dark room, and listen to the likes of Autumn Aurora
or Blood In Our Wells
, and suddenly they would be transported into magical, mysterious worlds of singing cranes flying above the red-orange leaves of fall, reflected in calm lake-water. The standard black metal instruments were frequently joined by their folky counterparts, and the lyrics, usually consisting of Ukrainian poetry, would only reinforce this above-mentioned atmosphere. It, therefore shouldn’t have been very surprising when Drudkh released Songs Of Grief And Solitude
, an album of instrumental, extremely atmospheric folk tunes. It also shouldn’t have been very surprising that Songs Of Grief And Solitude
is quite a success.
Songs Of Grief And Solitude
is an uncharacteristically restrained album, by Drudkh’s standards. Aside from the occasional sound of rain or waves hitting a shore, calm acoustic guitars and dancing woodwinds are all that the listener will find here. Usually, the guitars will play a short melody or chord progression and repeat it, with the occasional lead thrown in, as the woodwinds solo over this accompaniment, but, very frequently, the woodwinds are nowhere to be seen. This leads to the album’s biggest flaw: much of it is simply chords being strummed or arpeggios played ad nauseam. Sure, these chords and arpeggios might be nice and pretty, and on Drudkh’s past albums, where they were used sparingly in between heavier moments, they were absolutely stunning, but when they stand alone, they rarely become more than just nice, pretty and very repetitive.
Thankfully, these moments hurt the album, in actuality, much less than it may seem from the above description, something due entirely to the band’s skillful creation of an atmosphere. Sure, most of The Cranes Will Never Return Here is just a ten-or-twenty second-long melody repeated for three and a half minutes, and yet one can’t deny that the atmosphere generated by these few simple chords oozes over and absolutely drowns the listener. Indeed, this atmosphere almost entirely makes up for the repetitiveness of some of the melodies, and so this turns out to be much less a problem than it could have been.
Due to the limited instrumentation, Songs Of Grief
seems to be a monochromatic composition at first listen, and, indeed, much of it will blend into a blur of acoustic chords, but upon repeated listens, one will discover that each song is subtly different from the others. While The Milky Way’s intertwining guitars are oddly spacey, The Cranes Will Never Return Here is mournful and nostalgic, and Why The Sun Is Sad is eerily happy and relaxed, and soon enough, each song will develop it’s own identity.
At first, Songs Of Grief And Solitude
may seem to be a monotonous bore that pales in comparison to the band’s back catalogue, but repeated listens prove that it’s just as daring, atmospheric, and, ultimately, rewarding as nearly anything that came before. This may not be quite the same Drudkh that wrote Autumn Aurora
, but it’s almost every bit as good.
Sunset In Carpathians