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Drudkh - Blood In Our Wells CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.96 | 19 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Blood in Our Wells' - Drudkh (84/100)

Drudkh are a band of mixed messages. In the light of certain 'accusations', they've outwardly declared themselves to be apolitical in nature, that their music is primarily intended as a reverence of nature. That may have been true for Forgotten Legends and Autumn Aurora, but by the time of Blood in Our Wells, it's clear that that statement was forged to some degree of bullshit. The album's cover (drawn from the work of 19th century painter Vasily Perov) Romanticizes an extremely traditional way of life. The lyrics are taken from the work of Ukrainian poets. Even titling a song "Ukrainian Insurgent Army" doesn't give a lot of space to argue that Drudkh have their hearts purely set on admiring trees.

Most telling of all, however, is Drudkh's dedication of this album to the memory of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist fixed on claiming the Ukraine's independence throughout the Second World War. I've no doubt Drudkh have shirked away from directly discussing their politik either as a way to keep their label happy, or as a way to prevent needless hassle. And why would they want to entreat that nuisance anyway? Any talk of nationalism sparks the ire of a braindead Left, with misguided hearts set on quelling all regional, ethnic or otherwise exclusivist pride in the name of justice and tolerance. Any fan of Blood in Our Wells who somehow holds Drudkh's nationalism begrudgingly against them is probably missing the point. They're certainly capable of creating masterpieces purely inspired by nature-- Autumn Aurora is living proof of that fact. But there's something else working on Blood in Our Wells, a tragic quality you could never feel from nature-worship alone. Much as the case was for Varg Vikernes' work in Burzum, the fact that Drudkh are so passionate about their ideology is a good part of the reason why the atmosphere on Blood in Our Wells is so rich and penetrating. They're extremely proud, sad, and angry on this album, and every minute of music here serves as testament to that fact.

When all is said, I think I'll always prefer the pristine atavism of Autumn Aurora over all else in Drudkh's discography. Blood in OUr Wells is up there however, and I don't think I'd have liked it half as much if it had continued trying to repeat the band's early glory. The unveiling of their Ukrainian pride was hinted at on The Swan Road, but it wasn't manifested full-force until this album. Here, native Ukrainian folk instrumentation is largely used between the cracks of the album's long (10~ minute) compositions. While black metal by itself isn't usually tied to a specific region, folk music often is, and the inclusion gives their black metal mainstay a greater weight as a result. With Autumn Aurora, Drudkh created a pastoral atmosphere that could be related to by anyone who felt at one with nature by themselves at some point in their life. Blood in Our Wells is far more specific to their personal identity and circumstance, and that gives it an even deeper emotional resonance.

Most all of Drudkh's ideas are good or great. That could be said in relation to any of their works. Where the superb is distinguished from the fair and middling is the way they structure those ideas. Like many in atmospheric black metal, Drudkh love to use repetition in their compositions. On Autumn Aurora, they struck a minimalist's perfection, giving each idea the time it needed to thrive. When one of their albums, like Forgotten Legends is less impressive, it's usually because they've stretched an idea out too long. Well, I can say with certainty that Blood in Our Wells has many of Drudkh's finest ingredients, with some of them (such as the gorgeous closing minutes of "When the Flame Turns to Ashes") even surpassing anything on Autumn Aurora.

Some songs, like "Furrows of Gods", are immaculately penned and structured. Despite the brilliant earthly atmosphere throughout the album, I do think some of the motifs towards the latter half of the album overstay their welcome, if only a bit. Blood in Our Wells is fifty minutes long, and it does sound like it might have fared better with a few minutes shaved off that tally. Because the album generally lurks around a driving mid-pace, I usually find myself wanting a change of speed around "Solitude" or "Eternity". I've recently come to love Blood in Our Wells , and know now that I didn't give it near as much credit as I should have when I first heard it years ago, but I'm left with the consistent impression that either or both of those tracks could have used a little trimming around the edges.

Drudkh may withhold themselves from making any explicit statements, but there's a very specific kind of melancholy at work here. The folk accompaniment and pastoral imagery carries an anger that could only be fuelled by some external anger. Even if I don't see Blood in Our Wells as the band's best, I have no problem with the fact that it's seen as the band's canonical masterpiece. What they began to work with on The Swan Road, they almost perfected with this one. Some of the melodies on this album will haunt me forever.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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