Review Summary: Exploding with emotion and Atmosphere, Estrangement is an epic journey that will be sure to please many.
Whenever a highly renowned band in the underground metal scene releases an album, a lot is usually expected. Fans often hope they continue on the same path they have always triumphed over, while some hope to see bright new things from the band. Either way, Drudkh is definitely one of those bands whose fans have high expectations. Since their debut in 2003 Drudhk have had a very productive career, releasing a total of 6 albums and 1 EP. Unfortunately the EP Anti-Urban
showed a more boring and less atmospheric side to Drudkh, and had many fans, including myself, uneasy about the new album. Luckily,after listening to the new album Estrangement
, I knew they were back.
An eerie Ukranian spoken section opens the epic Estrangement
, then the listener is pulled through the nearly 11 minute long track "Solitary Endless Path" which seems much like older Drudkh, but with some new twists. This track is very upfront, no useless intro noise(minus the 3 second spoken sample), no drawn out slow sections, just an explosion of simple riffs backed up by basic but highly majestic keyboards much like what you would find on an older Drudkh album. Although simple, Drudkh have always managed to keep their music interesting by providing an indescribable atmosphere that can always satisfy anyone that isn't looking for music that is all about being flashy and technical.
There are new qualities that show up on the album that have not always played a part in past Drudkh albums. One noticeable thing is the bass; it is highly audible and played perfectly. The bass does not simply follow the main melody of the song, but stands out to provide the perfect rhythm, unlike in most black metal. Along with the bass, the drums also help to combine and make the perfect rhythm section. This drumming is also a bit different from other Drudkh albums; the snare is much more prominent, which some may see as irritating, though I have no problem with it. Drumming from Amorth is very good, from well placed blast beats to roaring rolls he keeps you interested and holds everything together flawlessly.
Overall the songs on Estrangement
are quite long. The first 3 main tracks are all about equal in length at just under 11 minutes. Despite their length, the songs rarely grow tiresome. Each of the songs have interesting instrumental work, and all of them have nice guitar solos thrown in the mix as well. The solos are nothing fancy or technical, but they are fittingly beautiful and melancholic and keep the songs from becoming too repetitive. Inevitably with songs this long, there are sections of draggin, though it’s a rare occurrence that does not take away anything from the overall listening experience.
One of the most notable changes over Drudkhs career is the vocalists Thurios(Roman Blagih)'s style. On the first 2 albums he was more of a traditional black metal vocalist with a rasp, but his voice has grown into more of a growl over time. A notable aspect about his growl though is that he does not have a low guttural voice, his vocals are much more aggressive and emotional and have a more medium pitch to them. Thurios sounds better than ever on this release, displaying plenty of emotion and standing above many other vocalists in black metal
Lyrical themes on Estrangement are just as they always have been; poetry about forests, nature and the band’s heritage. Despite all the song titles being written in English, the lyrics are all sung in their native language Ukrainian. This to me is a nice switch up to hear bands sing in different languages aside from English. After all, hearing a band sing in one language all the time (although not very important) can become boring and it is nice to hear a change from the regular.
I am sure there will be people who dislike certain features of this album such as the snare tone of the long song lengths. But for me, these factors all add up and merge perfectly to create this epic masterpiece of atmospheric black metal. This album may not appeal to fans of the more folk influenced Drudkh but for those who like their black metal simple and exploding with atmosphere and emotion, look no further because Estrangement is the perfect way to go. I can only hope that Drudkh keep up this sound and never revert back to the Anti-Urban
style that did not release the full potential of Drudkh
Things that are good about this album
+Excellent display of atmosphere and emotion
+Superb rhythm section
+Awesome vocal performance
+Nice guitar solos
Things that are bad about this album
-Nothing revolutionary or new, just a return to an older style
-Some songs drag in sections
-At 36 minutes, album is a bit too short for my tastes