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Drudkh - Autumn Aurora CD (album) cover

AUTUMN AURORA

Drudkh

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.05 | 44 ratings

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CassandraLeo
5 stars Cited by many listeners as Drudkh's finest recording, Autumn Aurora is where Drudkh announced to the world that they had more to offer than (admittedly very well executed) Burzum worship. The acoustic intro "Fading" (later reprised as the ambient synth piece "The First Snow") announces to the world Drudkh's mission statement: a pastoral acoustic guitar lick performed over nature sound effects (chirping birds and the like). This nicely sets the tone for the rest of the album's ruminative meditation on the transition of autumn into winter.

"Summoning the Rain" and "Glare of Autumn" are next, and they are effectively two movements of the same piece. Autumn Aurora is the band's first release to use atmospheric synthesizers, and they are deployed to full effect to texture a beautiful electric guitar lick that has very little rooting in black metal. Thurios' howls provide one of the few extreme metal touches to this piece, which is mostly midtempo and, when the transition to "Glare of Autumn" occurs, redeploys the acoustic guitars found on "Fading".

"Sunwheel" supplies another surprise, with an upbeat major-key riff leading off the piece and setting the mood for the first half of the song. The expected black metal vocals are still found here, but the mood of the piece remains upbeat. It isn't until the second half of the song that the mood changes to a more downcast one, with gloomy synths and guitars over a largely ambient background (few vocals to be found here). The piece fades out over a wind sound effect, which (on the CD) leads into what for me is the strongest song Drudkh have ever recorded, "Wind of the Night Forests". (They're separated by a side division on the vinyl, so there's a fade-out and fade-in, with the wind sound effects remaining).

"Wind of the Night Forests" is perhaps the single most central composition to the album's meditation on the onset of winter. The performances and composition here are top-notch; Yuriy Sinitsky's drumming has to be singled out for particular praise. When people tell you black metal can be beautiful, this is the kind of song they're talking about.

"The First Snow" finishes off the album. As mentioned above, it's an ambient piece that reprises the album's intro. There are no vocals here, and even the guitars are reduced to a background rôle. The song is heavily based in repetition, but it's highly unlikely listeners will mind; repetition is indeed central to the song's concept. It's stunningly beautiful, and a perfect way to finish off the album.

There was a time when I would listen to this album every night before I slept, because it has a perfect nocturnal mood that is perfect for subduing the listener. I don't listen to it that often anymore, but it's still in regular rotation in my playlist, and it probably always will be. I'm not sure whether this is Drudkh's finest moment (Blood in Our Wells has a strong claim to that title as well), but it's a stunning record and deserves to be heard by anyone even remotely interested in black metal.

CassandraLeo | 5/5 |

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