Rather than a collection of new songs from Ukraine’s most fearsome and mysterious Black Metal machine, A Few Lines in Archaic Ukrainian gathers together half a dozen tracks from Drudkh’s collaborative past, previously only available in the form of split EPs with the likes of Hades Almighty, Grift and Paysage D’Hiver alongside a couple of original compositions.
Like the very best of the genre, Drudkh harness the environment which forged them and although their sound can be likened to the stalwarts of Black Metal there is something of the Slavic about their music. All the elements of Black Metal are present but packaged in a way that allows the form to convey the meaning. Drudkh are not afraid to utilise whatever comes their way in the form of musical styling: alongside the Emperor-like bridges in Fiery Serpent there are elements of Thurios’ almost-Niklas Kvarforth vocal lines.
Across the collection is the conflict between light and darkness, moments of ambient-calm amid the chaos of His Twenty-Fourth Spring; passages of pastoral quiet on the aptly-named All Shades of Silence. Drudkh have the ability to merge ferocious Black Metal with ambient, folk and pagan Black Metal to create a sound which places them at the forefront of the burgeoning epic Black Metal scene. A scene which they have been leading rather than following since the release of their debut album Forgotten Legends back in 2003.
The history of the land is an overwhelming preoccupation with the Black Metal movement, arguably the driving ethos of the genre, and Drudkh Slavic history forms the rich seem which lyricist Roman Sayenko mines. This collection includes inspiration from Ukrainian dissident writers and poets murdered by Soviet oppression in the name of censorship and repression during the Communist era. With that in mind there’s an argument to be made that Drudkh’s inspiration is more relevant than ever, with the world teetering on the brink of restricting freedom of speech for anyone daring to challenge the purveying narrative.
Drudkh have embraced the role of conduits for their art and placed their music at the forefront of their existence. Drudkh do not play live shows, they do not give interviews and do not provide band pictures; they are, to all intense and purpose, those faceless dissident writers of whom they write and whose message is more important than the people delivering it.
Although the nature of the collection means that the cohesion of the likes of Blood in Our Wells is somewhat lost, it doesn’t make A Few Lines in Archaic Ukrainian any less vital to their canon. Instead, it gives an insight into the enigmatic minds of one of the most vital underground bands of the genre.