Drudkh - Autumn Aurora
The Ukraine is home to a smattering of black metal bands, and Drudkh is probably one of the best known. Drudkh is modern black metal band that is actually a full band and not just one guy. Autumn Aurora is their second album, and was released in 2004.
Drudkh are not the typical, occult / Satan worshipping black metal. They come from the Burzum school of soulful, hypnotic, ambient black metal - recalling Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tarr on more than one occasion during the 5 tracks (closing track, The First Snow is a dead ringer for that album's opener). As the album title implies, this is a concept album based on the Autumn season and the powers of nature. "Summoning the Rain" is a slow, repetitive track with multiple guitar layers that drop in and out. It sounds like music to sleep to.
There is a warmness and almost positive feel to this album, which is weird to say about any black metal. The track "Sunwheel" sounds downright happy at the beginning, which is a bit bizarre. Somehow, it works and Drudkh have created a interesting thematic work with Autumn Aurora. On the downside, it is a bit monotonous at times, and may frustrate some listeners expecting a high-energy black metal band. Drudkh are like the mighty trees - sturdy and predictable. The vocals are also a bit of an afterthought - not much emotion or deviation in them, he sounds rather disinterested with little emotion.
Drudkh have a fairly devout following out there. They appeal to fans of the Northwestern black metal movement in American, like Wolves in the Throneroom. Unlike Wolves, however, Drudkh are very straightforward, particularly on Autumn Aurora (and their debut). 2006’s Blood in Our Wells is a tad more forward-thinking and a more interesting listen in my mind, but this offering is not without its charms - particularly if your looking for black metal that is less dark and oppressively evil (call it gray metal perhaps?). It gets a 2.5 out of 5.