Known for crafting harsh and melodic soundscapes, mysterious and prolific Ukrainian black metal act Drudkh demonstrates its versatility with its latest release. They Often See Dreams About the Spring marks a notable evolutionary point in Drudkh’s sound for longtime listeners and is a good introduction to the band for newcomers.
Unlike earlier Drudkh releases like Microcosmos, Blood in Our Wells, or Eternal Turn of the Wheel which lead with folk, ambient, or other such intros, They Often See Dreams About the Spring has no time to be subdued. The record’s first track “Nakryta Neba Burym Dakhom” picks up with palpable tension, similar to their recent release Somewhere Sadness Wanders. This may jar some fans who buy the record looking for a heavily atmospheric release. Its atmosphere has an almost ritualistic feel at times, demonstrated by the percussion closing out the intro track. That being said, the meat of the album doesn’t shy far away from Drudkh’s established and distinctive sound.
I enjoyed the symphonic elements in the album during my listen-throughs, which punctuate the familiar ferocity Drudkh. The second track, “U Dakhiv Irzhavim Kolossyu…” interrupts (and slows down) the tempo of the previous, but simultaneously turns up the brutality. Herein lies Drudkh’s talent. While their corpus has relied on evoking feelings of sorrow, this release leans heavily on aggression throughout. The longing which it evokes in the listener has a distinct flavor, but is more hopeful and less desolate than that felt listening to, say, Forgotten Legends.
They Often See Dreams About the Spring has bit of a drone to it, periodically offset by relatively upbeat tracks (all things considered) for the shadowy black metal group. Overall, this album has more focus on the vocal elements than some previous releases, remaining fairly atmospheric but eschewing Drudkh’s signature folk leanings. This makes it a refreshing listen.
The album closes with “Bilyavyi Den’ Vtomyvsya I prytykh,” relinquising no intensity. This final track pairs nicely with the first, giving the listener the sense that the album is about to wrap, only to be left breathless by its abrupt ending. Packed with emotion, They Often See Dreams About the Spring is a worthwhile listen and will keep me coming back to Drudkh.
Two things keep me from giving this release a solid A. One is the lack of variability in many if the tracks. This left me a bit lost during my previews of this complex album, but did not detract much. The second was the fact that, despite its rule-bending, it is very much in lockstep with previous Drudkh releases. Depending on your perspective, that in itself is a glowing endorsement of the record.
They Often See Dreams About the Spring releases on March 9th and can be purchased here.