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Drudkh - Autumn Aurora CD (album) cover



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Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's getting better with this release, because there are actual feelings from this album. They are harsh, cold and quite moldy, but they are here and this counts as advantage. This time we also are given new sounds, variable melody (that has depth, it's not shallow mountain creek). This is the main moving force that can raise rating very high. Don't forget that rating is just interpretation of my opinion, which is partly given by my words here. One can't capture his opinions and ideas perfectly, but for sure I'm trying.

Even limited by genre boundaries (you can't make something nice and symphonic here), basically each track here has its own sound, own path where it's taking listeners ("to the forest, to the forest"). Certainly improvement, but one must ask himself how much he can love something.

4(-), maybe more, that's unsure.

Report this review (#272345)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars I must have dropped of the black metal planet during the last ten years. That explain why I did not knew about this band until recently when I got a handful of their albums from a friend who did not want them. That's his loss and my gain.

This band is from Ukraine, but they sounds slightly like a Bathory copy on this album. But not quite.... The difference is the orientation towards Slavic folk music. In other words, folk music from their own country. A scene I am not familiar with, but I know the basics, whatever that is. You still get the rasping black metal vocals and the usual down tuned and tremolo picking guitars. The variation is not that great either. Only the black metal die hards will hear the nuances between the songs. The sameness is an issue, in other words. But Drudkh's sound is very good though.

This is still a good album. I think I will give the rest of their albums some of my attention too. This band may be up to something really good.

3 stars (barely)

Report this review (#295804)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Autumn Aurora' - Drudkh (88/100)

While Blood in Our Wells may be Drudkh's better album musically, I cannot think of another album that captures natural atmosphere as profoundly as Autumn Aurora. When September or October roll around, this album always comes into mind. Drudkh may have not had the most consistent career around, this album alone could have ensured their place among the greatest their genre has ever laid host to. They're rarely the sort of band that would sound interesting without the atmosphere, but it's hard to hold that against them when they conjure a mood so well. There is a magic to behold in the sense that a collage of raw guitars, tumbling drumwork, screams and the occasional nature sample can evoke such a strong picture in the mind's eye. For me, listening to Autumn Aurora is like taking a brief retreat from society, becoming alone and one with nature; ancient, vast, and glorious.

The fact that Drudkh nail that atmosphere so well is made more impressive by the fact that every second or third black metal band has meant to do the same. Most grasp at echoes of the magic, but ultimately sound grounded, and not in the earthly way they're intending. Drudkh made great lengths towards achieving this on their debut Forgotten Legends, but that album was otherwise held back by its trying repetition and monotony. While I'm convinced a grasp of atmosphere is something you either 'have' or don't have from the start, Drudkh became far more adept at bringing their atmosphere to light via more dynamic means. Their composition is still pretty minimalist by most band's standards, but Autumn Aurora finally employed the band's inherently strong riffs in such a way that they never get boring to listen to.

Drudkh's ideas tend to be solid by and large, but Autumn Aurora carries a mystical undercurrent that sets it apart from their other albums. There's a really organic feel, for example, to the way the lead guitar in "Summoning the Rain" is handled. The rough-yet-controlled feel to the guitars sounds like it was concocted simultaneously, or drawn out from the floor of a lake. The expected folkish undercurrent remains strong throughout the album; acoustic guitars are rarely given a spotlight outside of brooding intros, but you can almost always hear them strumming away behind the wall of distortion. Such a simple addition to Drudkh's sound makes Autumn Aurora much prettier-sounding than its barebones predecessor.

There's an emotional aloofness throughout Autumn Aurora; it is vast and plenty reverent to nature, but it lacks an intimate touch. This would make most other albums sound relatively cold, but I think it works for what Drudkh were trying to accomplish here. The gritty, repeating riffs, the sparse growls, everything sounds warm without giving the impression you're in the company of others. It is purely solitary art, and that's a good part of the reason why the atmosphere works so well. With regards to atmosphere, the are only a handful of albums that see fit to create a 'mental cinema' in my mind while I'm listening to them. In Autumn Aurora's case, I'm regaled with images of wind rustling through trees, of twilight sweeping across a forest. Those images are par for the course for most any nature-themed black metal, but it's very seldom that music ever evokes it as well as here.

Drudkh's masterpiece culminates with "The First Snow", a song that truly sounds like it was forged in the liminal region between autumn and winter. The black metal is distilled to none but its most beautiful, harmonious elements, the tempo slows down to a melancholic plod, and the acoustics take a higher priority in the mix. For a relatively long piece that doesn't use more than two ideas throughout, "The Final Snow" never wears thin. It could probably go on for half an hour and I wouldn't mind. That's the sort of atmosphere that Drudkh bring to the table; timeless, masterful and surprisingly authentic. There are plenty of times I think one of their later albums is my favourite, but I keep coming back to Autumn Aurora. For their part in it, Drudkh have created a work of art that would sound just as evocative if it were released twenty years from now, as opposed to over a decade ago. Don't try to figure this album out; there's nothing to unlock. Sit back, and let it pass over you. Real atmosphere is surprisingly hard to come by, and this album has it in droves.

Report this review (#349614)
Posted Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whether you don't like Drudkh or you do, whether you like Atmospheric Black Metal or not, you absolutely cannot deny that the second album of the band has something to give for everyone. Indeed "Autumn Aurora" is, being so far the best Drudkh album, a near perfect masterpiece, an album full of mystery, darkness, as well as beauty and arcane wonder. It didn't take much for Roman Saenko, Thurios, Amorth, and Yuriy Synytsky to reach their best quality sound, and, in my opinion, they haven't been yet able to repeat such emotional intensity.

Things have changed, compared to the decent debut; first of all, other than having a rough, strong sound, the band puts in the music the use of synthesizers here and there, giving a progressive touch to all the songs. The arrangements thus are more refined and interesting, and definitely more Atmospheric. This kind of music in fact is, in my opinion, exactly how Atmospheric Black Metal should be, otherwise it risks to be boring and repetitive, like "Forgotten Legends" was in certain points.The mysterious lyrics are always present, in almost all the songs; even though the sheets were never released to the public, it is known that they're mainly influenced by Ukrainian literature and poetry, as well as myths and legends.

Beautiful, majestic, intriguingly vague and blurry like a cloudy yet sunny afternoon, "Forgotten Legends" is a wonderful collection of rough, dark melodies combined with dreamy, evocative atmospheres. So it can easily be considered a follow up to "Forgotten Legends" in a way, or, even better, an improvement.

The songs are of rare beauty at times, like in the delicate but creepy "The First Snow", which presents no drumming nor singing. "Sunwheel" has an unusual touch, since the melody is somewhat cheerful, but the arrangements make it sound frightening. From beginning to end, the album flows with cryptic beauty, in a way that makes every listener shiver, from both fear and pleasure.

"Forgotten Legends", even though it's a black metal album and not a lot of people would go and listen to this for this reason, is an album that everybody who loves metal or progressive should listen to. Keep aside your hatred for black growls for approximately 40 minutes, and to the sound of distorted nature.

Report this review (#408862)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Drudkh's first album, despite being quite enjoyable, was too repetitive and tends to bore me if I'm not in the right mood. "Autumn Aurora" is repetitive too, but this time they know where to stop. There's enough variety here to keep the listener paying attention through the whole album. This time they have added some keyboards, a very good addition to their sound if you ask me. They are not present all the time, in fact they are little used, never seem out of place and it helps to develop the atmosphere.

The album is rather short, and when the music is as good as this case, it's double short. The drums are another thing that needs to be mentioned. You will hear no better drumming in Black Metal as in this album. The harsh vocals are quite few, and are very low in the mix. The production in general is raw, but every instrument (except the bass) can be easily recognized.

Since the acoustic "Fading", to the upbeat "Sunwheel" (perhaps my favourite song on the album) and the droning "The First Snow" (Agalloch would come 2 years later with "Our Fortress Is Burning... III - The Grain" as an album closer with the same drone style), this album is a gem within the Atmospheric Black/Folk Metal and should not be missed by those who enjoy the most extreme branches of music.

Final Score: 4,8 rounded to 5. Best Tracks: "Sunwheel", "Wind of the Night Forests" and "The First Snow".

Report this review (#743918)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1313066)
Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Review Permalink

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