Drudkh hail from the Ukraine, and specialise in raw, hypnotic mid-paced, nature-themed black metal. They share aspects of their sound with their much harsher sister band, Hate Forest, however whereas Hate Forest's sound is very cold and unforgiving, Drudkh lean towards a warmer, 'autumnal' sound, with an emphasis on melancholy and sadness rather than freezing hatred.
The band's name is Sanskrit for 'wood', and Drudkh excel at creating depressive yet beautiful atmosphere akin to being alone in a forest in the autumn at sunset. This theme is also present in the artwork, which here,as with many of Drudkh's albums, depicts a forest painted in oranges, golds, and browns, and also in the songtitles (see below). The album booklet is also worth mentioning, as it contains some beautiful black and white charcoal drawings conveying sadness and solitude that are not dissimilar to the work of 19th century Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen, best known to black metal fans through Burzum's use of his work for album covers including 'Hvis lyset Tar Oss'.
'Forgotten Legends' consists of a handful of melancholy, drawn-out tracks, comparable both to Burzum, with their raw, sad, ancient sounding riffs and simplistic structure, and Primordial, in their epic, lengthy, droning nature and in their mixed feelings of great sadness and stoic pride. The production here is quite raw, the fuzzy guitars melting into one another, but this works perfectly, as it creates a sense of distance, both in space and time, that is in keeping with the album's primeval feel.
Whilst repetitive, there is still variation both within and between tracks, with riffs speeding up and slowing down, like a line of shadow or a group of trees climbing steadily up a series of hills and spilling down the other sides, and the songs take time to fully appreciate, as they require time to develop, slowly gathering momentum as they go and thus gradually building up emotion in the listener. Tremeolo picking is frequently present in the background, adding another more delicate dimension to the songs, whilst raw, screamed vocals are employed over the top. These complement the music perfectly, and the facts that they are unintelligible, and that no lyrics are given, further emphasise the album's sense of mysticism and its remoteness from the modern world.
It retains an organic, slightly folky feel throughout, and there is some similarity to "Terminal Spirit Disease" era At The Gates at work here too, in the album's chuggy, relentless nature, its fuzzy, blissfully sad, and somehow timeless production and in the raw and emotive screams that accompany the music. 'Forgotten Legends' is a far more subdued affair however, and is a very calming listen, bringing to mind rushing streams, billowing branches, and sheets of rain working their way across untouched landscapes. This is achieved instrumentally, through the repetitive riffs and song structures, and gentle finger picking suggestive of drops of rain, and also through the subtle use of sampled birdsong, river recordings, and the recording of a forest in a thunderstorm, which acts as a closer to the album.
'Forgotten Legends' is a true underground gem, and whilst an absolute must for fans of pagan and depressive black metal, there is also something here for folk music fans and nature lovers in general.
1. False Dawn 15:58
2. Forests in Fire and Gold 08:53
3. Eternal Turn of the Wheel 11:44
4. Smell of Rain 02:46
Total playing time 39:24