Ukrainian atmospheric black metal machine Drudkh are back with their latest platter of devilish delights on Season of Mist, titled Handful of Stars. Strangely viking/power metal themed cover art aside, Handful of Stars is exactly what we've anticpated from this band after 2009's excellent Microcosmos.
Roman (guitar), Thurios (vocals, guitar), Krechet (bass), and Vlad (drums, keyboards) take their influence from the vast & chilling sounds of classic Nordic black metal, so the epic tracks on Handful of Stars are of course dripping in atmosphere, melancholy, and icy harshness, yet with plenty of melody. "Downfall of the Epoch" is a perfect example of this combination, as almost clean sounding guitar chords shimmer throughout the mix beneath harsh vocals and intelligent percussion. The blast beats and raging tremelo picked mayhem doesn't begin until "Towards the Light", but even then it's somewhat toned down from what we get with similar acts in the genre. This song is so textured and filled with different colors and tones, you can almost feel yourself desperately trudging through the desolate woods or snow capped mountains of Norway. Thurios' anguished rasps inject a feeling of hopelessness on the stripped down"Twilight Aureole", a track that has more in common with post rock than black metal for most of the song, till things kick into high gear towards the end of the piece. "The Day Will Come" is another melodic and textured number, which could be what Amon Amarth would sound like if they decided to become a black metal band. The layers of guitars are quite effective on this one, giving the song an almost symphonic quality.
Other than the short instrumental intro and outro, all the four main tracks are quite lengthy and epic sounding. Drudkh have done it once again, delivering an album that proves without a shadow of a doubt that there's plenty of diversity that can be delivered within the black metal framework. Well done.
1. Cold Landscapes
2. Downfall of the Epoch
3. Towards the Light
4. Twilight Aureole
5. The Day Will Come
6. Listening to the Silence