Review Summary: Drygva unleashes an astonishingly heavy and evocative pagan experience
Hailing from the little known Slavic country of Belarus, Drygva is an even less known pagan metal band. The fact that these guys are completely off the radar for most people could be attributed to their marketing, which is almost nonexistent. It is a shame that their music is so inaccessible, as they make some of the most crushing and brutal folk metal you would be able to find. Son of Mighty Rod, released in mid 2010, shows the group coming to full form. Bringing their downtuned crushing guitars, flawlessly heavy drumwork, lilting and bright flute lines and shrieking vocals, Drygva sounds like a band beyond their tender age with their crystal production values.
This almost perfect production is a major strong point of the album. Most pagan metal bands that are independent and relatively obscure bands like Drygva consistently suffer from terrible audio quality, but Drygva's mix is so perfect it puts larger bands to shame. The guitars have so much bottom end, it locks in with the bass drum to the point of perfect cohesion. This rhythm section creates a solid base for the rest of the band. The only complaint with this style of mix is the bass which is almost completely mixed out, only offering a few clicking lines to the guitars and filling them out.
The standout instrumental performance is the albums drums. The way the bass drum hits on EVERY SINGLE NOTE the guitars play is truly incredible. It gives the whole rhythm section such weight, and shows off the bands cohesion and understanding of each others playing. The flute lines also feature notable mention, as they range from mellow and calm to bright and extremely fast. This diversity adds truly enrapturing melodies to the music.
TRACK BY TRACK
1. The Prophecy - A simple intro song is extremely common within folk metal albums, and Drygva's is no different. The Prophecy features calm clean guitars and vocals in the form of spoken words, in the native Belarusian tongue. A esoteric experience before the rest of the album.
2. The Path of Volkvhes - WHAM. Straight after the calm flute the guitars and drums launch into a brutally massive death metal riff, heralded by rasping vocals. Moving straight forward into a death metal styled verse, accompanied by synthesizers to add depth, this song shows the musicianship of Drygva straight up. 4.5/5
3. Mother of Enhydris - One of 3 outstanding tracks on the album, this song starts with guitar before leading into one of the most catchy flute lines in modern pagan music. The sludgy verse riffing is always picked up by this riff, and you'll be hanging on the edge of your seat to hear that flute line after each verse. 5/5
4. Son of Mighty Rod - Continuing these brilliant flute lines, the title track of the album is truly killer. The flutes intro is supported by truly beefy guitars, this song showing the drummers ability to cohesively lock in with the instruments in the clearest way possible. 4/5
5. The Watchword - Another interlude like track, the track sounds almost anthemic with its guitar melody and flute line. The spoken Belarusian vocals again return, before leading into swift drums that take the listener back to pagan times. Interesting and evocative, it's a shame this song didn't last longer. 4/5
6. Under the Banner of Perun - With it's death metal riffing and anger inciting bagpipe lines, this song is one of rage and war. The black metal styled vocals fit perfectly with this song, giving images of great battles and warriors. 4.5/5
7. Sigh of War - The second in the 3 outstanding songs on the album, this song features a somber and saddening keyboard line amongst the rage of the rest of the song. Truly pagan in its sound, this song is everything folk metal should be. 5/5
8. Thuderstorm - This tiny little song shouldn't be overlooked as an interlude song, and is one of the greatest sounds on the album. Haunting whispering gives way to astonishing guitars playing heavy rhythms and awe inspiring bagpipe lines. The sounds of thunder and rain accompany this anger, giving the song a raw and powerful feel. This one is for a rainy day. 5/5
9. If You Shall Die In Battle - Back to the feel that Under The Banner of Perun gave, this song features a crushing groove to start it off. Most of the melody is carried by synthesizers, and even breakdown-style riffs enter the heavier parts of this song. 4.5/5
10. Festal Song - Probably the best song on the album, Festal Song rounds of the trio of truly superb tracks featured here. Starting with a calm acoustic guitar line, the song explodes into thrashing guitars and bouncing flutes. The effect is sure to give the listener goosebumps lasting through the whole song.
Overall, this album should be vastly more well know thanks to it's production values and the crushing music. If you're a fan of music that both warms and breaks your heart, this album is sure to sate that feeling. Fans of the band should spread it around, in hope that this band will gain the recognition it deserves.