Drudkh - Estrangement
Supernal Music
Black Metal
4 songs (36:26)
Release year: 2007
Supernal Music
Reviewed by Goat

It never ceases to amaze me that Drudkh is so prolific, having released six albums and an EP since 2002 - with everything that I’ve heard (all but the EP) being amazing. After the highly contentious Songs Of Grief & Solitude, completely absent of the band’s Black Metal elements, the band released a quick vinyl-only EP, and then produced Estrangement, which has divided fans as much as the Neofolk album, if not more. It’s typical of Black Metal fans even more than regular Metalheads that change is anathema; as Ihsahn pointed out in a recent interview, there’s little point in making a new Emperor album, as the Prometheus fans would hate an Anthems-style release, and vice versa. Drudkh has excelled in riding this traditionalism so far by changing its sound very little, but making it just obvious enough to avoid stagnation.

Of course, changes, however small, get seized and held aloft as proof of genius or idiocy by the armies of Internet experts, and so it is with Estrangement. Three ten-minute tracks with an instrumental outro were never going to be the most popular of options, but the band does much of interest with it. Take opening song Solitary Endless Path; after an epic build-up with some technical drumming and complex yet melodic guitars, the band switches to almost a Middle-Eastern style, guitars disappearing into the murk, a solid yet subtle wall of keyboards for melody and the drums developing strange, hypnotic patterns of their own. Perhaps unfortunately there’s a slight ‘bong’y quality to the drums in sections which will cause the inevitable St. Anger accusations, as generally happens when a band produces its percussion less than flawlessly – the ferocity of sections, with what is practically is a ‘wall of noise’ approach, repetitive drums patterns, and Roman’s rage-filled growls makes this the most aggressive that Drudkh has been for a while.

It hardly lasts long, however. This all shifts into a typically Drudkhian folksy breakdown, and some simple yet wonderfully atmospheric riffing. Being honest, on the first couple of listens it doesn’t sound at all as if the band is progressing, and you never really get that impression – this album is more of the same, but is definitely not the same as before. A step sideways rather than a step forward, making it understandable that people have been having reservations about Estrangement. The slightly dull Skies At Our Feet is yet another masterpiece of melancholy emotion, there’s no doubt about it, but if you’ve followed the band this far you may well want something more. Where Horizons End, on the other hand, is as good as you want Drudkh to be, pushing all the right buttons and incorporating an almost Post-Rocky vibe well.

Ultimately, Estrangement is a good, if not great album. The Black Metal is a little more overt, the drums more technical, yet my overall impression is that the band would have done better to cut the songs in half and release it as a stopgap, an intake of breath before the next release, but! If you’re a Drudkh fanatic and are prepared to give it time, Estrangement is as vital as all the other albums, especially the special limited edition, which features beautiful extended artwork and translated lyrics. Newcomers would be better advised to start earlier in the band’s discography, but will likely love this.

Killing Songs :
Solitary Endless Path, Where Horizons End, Only The Wind Remembers My Name
Goat quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Drudkh that we have reviewed:
Drudkh - A Furrow Cut Short reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Drudkh - Eastern Frontier in Flames reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Drudkh - Eternal Turn Of The Wheel reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Drudkh - Forgotten Legends reviewed by Tony and quoted 99 / 100
Drudkh - Handful Of Stars reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 11 reviews click here
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