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one of the most vital BM releases in a long time - 97%

michinoku, June 11th, 2005

I would call Drudkh's latest disc, The Swan Road, a vital piece of BM, because it pulses organically despite the inclusion of elements that can really drag a work into the mud if mishandled - extremely melodic songwriting, simplistic bm repetition, heavy folk awareness in both the lyrics and the compositions. Basically Drudkh moves closer to post-Burzum folk/black territory then they ever have, and they handle it extremely well - so well, in fact, that this album is one of the most listenable works in the genre in a damn long time.

Autumn Aurora, the band's previous release, was an achingly beautiful, very well textured piece of droning/ambient black metal, its only flaw being the lack of flow in song structures - it seemed like once the members had settled on a riff or chord progression, they would play it until exhaustion and then switch, sometimes with less grace than one might expect. While the more ambient aspects of the songwriting is mostly gone here, we have much greater song integration that keeps the songs moving between EXTREMELY clever guitar lines that brilliantly enhance the admittedly familiar chord progressions that this band uses, the harsher vocals, and the layered production. Everything that was accomplished with synthesizers on the previous release is done with warm, enveloping guitar fuzz, and the overall atmosphere of the release is far more aggressive as a result - on occasion, some acoustic guitar is layered into the mix, and the sound in these sections is extraordinarily full.

I'm not of any descent even remotely resembling slavic, but Drudkh's music is capable of granting the listener a type of empathy for their unfortunately dark history. The aggression on the majority of the tracks is not bludgeoning, and there is still enough beautiful melody in the songwriting to also offer some of the more positive aspects of this history - and while on this release the band isn't directly invoking the worshipful respect for nature innate in this culture, it exists as part of the organic vitality of this album, that keeps it from being any of the cliches of black metal that it could be.
And just so they could prove that to the listener, the band closes out the album with the unique Song of Sich Destruction, presumably a slavic folk melody performed with just vocals and a very peculiar stringed instrument that sounds very metallic and imprecise - and as the only full acoustic song on the album, it makes quite an impression, like the band might be the most committed to their folk heritage of any band currently producing records. It is just a further demonstration that this band is really doing something authentic, and the fact that it sounds this pretty, this polished, this well-layered, works to Drudkh's favor.