Ukraine’s Drudkh have always managed to merge just enough atmosphere, mood, aggression and melody into their well-crafted, lengthy songs. For 2012, Drudkh offer up Eternal Turn of the Wheel on Season of Mist. I was a pretty big fan of 2009’s Microcosmos, but missed the boat on the mixed reviewed Handful of Stars. On their ninth full length it should be interesting to see if their methods still hold true.
Clocking in at 36 minutes with 6 songs – well 4 actually with an intro & outro track – Drudkh seem to be following a pattern set since Estrangement, which also contains 4 songs as well as subsequent releases. The opener “Eternal Circle” is an acoustic passage with some wind effects and bird noises that transitions to the money shot “Breath of Cold Black Soil”. This is true to form Drudkh— heavy blasting sections which segue into the melodic groove segments and back and then morph into atmospheric, slower parts. This is a great track and comprised of the song structure that put Drudkh on the map, but I’m not blown away just yet.
Once “When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls” starts to really get going a bit past the 3 minute mark it locks into a decent, sustaining groove. The vocals, as on previous records, aren’t really anything spectacular but manage to get the job done in a raspy, throaty way. “Farewell to Autumn Birds” is spot on as it contains a great combination of heaviness and emotion. Musically, I would compare the riff structure to something you would hear on an Amon Amarth album complete with Scandinavian vibe. “Night Woven of Snow, Winds and Grey-Haired Stars” closes the album in a rather weak fashion. By this point the blasting/riffing has become too much of a burden to bear and the repetition is just too much to take. There is just not enough variation on the main riff to derive any kind of value from this track. A rather disappointing way to close out Eternal Turn of the Wheel.
At first I believed all the elements were going to be there for Eternal Turn of the Wheel to be a big smash, unfortunately I’m not completely sold. Drudkh has a very impressive back catalog that I would implore new listeners to check out, with the exception of Handful of Stars. Eternal Turn of the Wheel just seems to pack too much of an antiquated, overused style into it without any new innovation and I just can’t get behind this album.