Drudkh – Eternal Turn of the Wheel

Reluctant as I am to write a damning review of any album – often a bad use of time that could be spent more profitably writing about music I really care about – the things that bug me about this latest Drudkh album cut to the very core of metal and its musical values, and therefore deserve to be talked about. As a loyal Drudkh fan, I’m also hoping that some of you have got a lot more out of this record than I have, and will be able to set the record straight in the comments.

It must be said, first of all, that there’s a lot to like about Eternal Turn of the Wheel. With its gloomy and evocative cover art and compelling thematic concept of the annual cycle of seasons, the scene is well set for the glorious but harrowing nature-rooted metal that has made the band’s name. All members put in a strong performance: Thurios’ bellowings have never been so vicious or so moving, and the drum-lines are among the most consistently interesting Drudkh has ever offered. On both points the tidy production lends a lot of support, giving ample space and spotlighting to each part. My last compliment – and it’s a big one – is that each of the four fulls songs is excellently structured, and the well-placed transitions between movements have, on each time I’ve listened to the album, kept me listening from start to finish. From Estrangement on, Drudkh have striven to craft Burzumic epics in the tradition of Det Som En Gang Var, and on Eternal Turn they show off just how well they’ve mastered that art on the structural level. They also toss in some incisive shifts of rhythm, such as the smart triplet-blasts on ‘Breath of Cold Black Soil’ and ‘When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls‘, that still throw me every time.

So what makes Eternal Turn such a disappointment? The answer is something that should be fatal to any metal record: the complete absence of compelling guitar parts. Note that I didn’t say ‘riffs’, and this is for a good reason: the album is built up almost entirely of chord progressions rather than riffs. This alone is not necessarily a bad thing, even for a metal band: witness a band like Woods of Desolation, whose guitar parts would have worked just as well in a conventional rock song, but are so stirring and emotion-laden that they work even in a Black Metal context. The chord progressions on Eternal Turn, on the other hand, are utterly perfunctory. It’s almost as if the band have laid out the rhythmic blueprints for four Burzumic structural masterpieces and then just fired out whatever basic chord-sequences first came to mind. With only one exception (the jarring, discordant ending to ‘Breath of Cold Black Soil’), they leave me utterly unmoved. It would be all right if on top of the progressions the band had slathered some of the searing melodicism that made Blood in their Wells the masterpiece it is. Unfortunately, the best melodies on this record are confined to the acoustic intro. There’s a strong synth-presence throughout (with a tone lifted straight from Det Som En Gang Var), but the lines rarely do more than mimic the chord voicings. Aside from the rhythms and vocal bile, this music does not stir me one bit, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good deal worse than if it had utterly disgusted me.

Sad as it is for me to say these things about a Drudkh album, this band doesn’t owe me a single thing. I’ve had years of rapturous listening thanks to these Ukrainian visionaries, and will no doubt have many more. Even if none of them are spent listening to Eternal Turn of the Wheel, that’s only a tiny loss.

18 Comments

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Nico

    Yeah, I just can’t anymore, no matter how hard I try. “Back to roots”, they said. Really? I’m starting to wonder if Saenko didn’t do their first album by pure chance…

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Pavel

    Sorry for the disillusion, man. Katharsis sort of have this problem too, though for them it’s like they’re just playing a “progression” of chromatically related power chords–even worse!

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    AN

    I thought this sounded like a continuation, and maybe even a step up from Estrangement as if the 2 albums in between never happened. Not sure how one could disagree with how this sounds more like their previous material, I found it to be a great comeback.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    BE

    Talk about jumping on the bandwagon…I think that this ‘reviewer’ has read a few other reviews on the net and lifted parts out of them to form this horrendously written piece.

    ” the complete absence of compelling guitar-parts.” – LOLWUT. Dude, you totally do not get Drudkh- their guitars are all about inducing a trance like state, they never were meant to be the star of the show.

    Everybody should completely disregard this ‘review’. ETOTW is a very good album, and maybe whilst not reaching the levels of previous works, it is still an exceptional album that is better than 95% of the shitty black metal being released these days.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Marc

    It’s funny to see how painfully upset Drudkh’s fanbase gets when someone writes an honest review about the garbage these Ukrainian Gods created this time. Avoid this review? Hell no, it should be an eyeopener for many.

    Saying that 95% of all the released black is shitty is even more childish then Drudkh’s take upon music since they left Supernal Music and joined the horrible legion of Season Of Mist. I’ve left this bandwagon alone after the still pleasing sounds of Estrangement.

    I would advice Drudkhfans to listen carefully to their hyped up music so that maybe by change they’ll see how much they’ve been fooled around.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Niko

    Just to add my two cents – having heard the album, I wholeheartedly agree with BE.

    It seems to me that this reviewer has a personal gripe with Drudkh (“oh noes they’re not producing the type of music I like!”) rather than appreciating the music for what it is.

    Drudkh fans hopefully will give this album a chance and realise how very wrong this review is.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Badger

    What’s the point in slating a reviewer for giving his honest opinion?? I think it’s a well written piece, although I don’t agree with the sentiments expressed. And what’s this bandwagon mentioned by Marc? A few hundred internet nerds jerking off over a particular band is nothing new. Drudkh used to sell a few hundred records, now they sell a few thousand, a crime for which many cannot forgive them for.

    Anyway this has only just been released, and like all the best music it will take months of listening to fully work it’s magic.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Marc

    Yes, I was annoyed by the fact that a couple of hundred internet nerds are jerking off over this particular band, I will not deny this. I was also annoyed by Drudkh’s sudden change of musical direction, the entire “post”-hype and Season of Mist in general. All of this because it does not match with my vision of black metal (which is not all that orthodox, but it has a few borders).

    I simply should have left this band behind ages ago, but for some weird reason I didn’t. Enjoy whatever you prefer to enjoy. Drudkh no longer knows how to please me, which is okay.

    Besides all that this review remains very well-written. My compliments.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    MARC

    I am holier than thou and by posting on this forum I consign myself to being an internet nerd. I also jerk off to pictures of my wart-ridden grandmother.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Marc

    Haha, it truly is a shame that this forum also attracts people like the poster above. I’m sorry I’ve given you a reason to troll. Although it suits you.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Richard

    Christ, you can’t get pissy like that if someone gives an album you like a bad review.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Rob//LURKERSPATH

    Lads lads lads, take a deep breath now. What I was hoping was that fans who had got more out of this album than I had would give a reasoned defence of it and explain sensibly what they like about it. That was one of the main purposes of this post. As a Drudkh fan, I want to get as much out of this album as you do.

    BE, maybe you’re right about the guitar lines, I don’t know. But they don’t induce a trance-like state in me, just a bored one. As for copying the reviews/opinions of others, I wish I had the leisure-time to browse them, but unfortunately doctorate-writing takes precedence over googling for the reviews of others.

    NIKO, that’s totally the wrong end of the stick. I love this kind of music and think that it’s a good direction for Drudkh to have moved in – I just don’t get anything out of the actual riffs and wish they moved me more.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Johan

    I WILL HUNT EVERY SINGLE FUCKING MORON DOWN THAT DISAPPROVES OF DRUDKH. YOU WILL PAY, ROB.

  • Reply March 7, 2012

    Richard

    Besides, no other webzines meet LURKER’s strict quality standards to warrant us reading any of them.

  • Reply March 8, 2012

    Tom

    I was super stoked for this album when it was heralded as a return to form by many, prior to it’s release. Unfortunately, it also disappointed me. I kind of enjoyed the 2nd track, and I am willing to give it a few more tries, but my initial impression is that this album was uninspired. I just feel massively disappointed by it. Not only is it a fairly bland record, but it is also a victim of it’s own hype, and that makes it even worse.

  • Reply March 11, 2012

    Justin

    There’s a lot of melancholy and raw aggression in this album I haven’t felt in since prior to Estrangement. While ultimately it was a disappointing album in totality, there are some shining moments – namely, the second track (“Breath of Cold Black Soil”) and its ever-changing pace. It felt cold and sad, something I’ve been wanting to feel with Drudkh’s work for years now, so I was very grateful for that. Maybe they’ll continue in this direction until it’s wholly good (or, back to where they started).

  • Reply March 12, 2012

    matt reckless

    “handful of stars” kind of pissed me off at first but it eventually grew on me. i actually listen to it pretty regularly now. so far i’m really digging ‘eternal turn…’ personally i don’t think drudkh has ever been a riff band UNTIL ‘handful..’ which is all about riffs. prior to that and including this one, they were always an atmosphere band. ‘eternal turn of the wheel’ is a nice blend of old & new and probably the best black metal record released so far this year. that being said, this review is totally fine. you can’t like everything and the reviewer’s points are perfectly sound. my two cents

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