Drudkh- Handful of Stars

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, October 30, 2010

It’s hard to believe that Ukrainian black metal band Drudkh has released an album a year since forming in 2002, but what is even harder to believe is that the group has found ways to really change their sound from album to album. This year’s Handful of Stars is a perfect example of that, as the band has moved away from their harsh wall of sound and adopted a much lighter guitar tone. It may be a slightly different direction than some people were expecting, but it showcases plenty of potential and could differentiate Drudkh from some of the others out there if they continue to develop it.

Listeners that have been following this group for awhile may be surprised when they first put Handful of Stars on, as this sounds like a very different band. Gone is the raw production quality and guitar tone that Drudkh had become known for, and in its place is a very clean and light sound. Although it doesn’t seem likely that the instrumentalists have necessarily taken influence from other bands, because of this change in sound this album is likely to get compared to albums from acts such as Alcest and Lantlos. But there is no denying that they have taken a similar approach when it comes to breathtaking melodies and the incorporation of some non-metal influences. However, one can’t help feeling that there is a little too much filler on Handful of Stars as there are times where it takes the songs a little too long to build up and they repeat themselves a little too frequently. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some stunning moments, but they don’t occur as frequently as they could.

The instrumentals may have changed quite a bit, but the vocals still offer the familiar screams and shrieks. Singer Roman Blagih still sounds extremely powerful and menacing and this does help alleviate the fact that the overall tone of the album isn’t quite as raw as fans may be used to. There is an interesting contrast between the vocals and instrumentals, as while the riffs are very light and melodic the screaming is intense and in your face. It works quite well and listeners will likely find themselves entranced by Blagih’s performance.

Handful of Stars has its moments but it doesn’t quite reach the same heights that some of Drudkh’s previous albums have. If the group chooses to continue in this style, I would like to see them trim things down just a little bit and see if they can find ways to distinguish themselves from some of the other bands that are heading down this same path. Overall, this release still has some songs that makes it worth listening to but don’t expect it to be one of 2010’s best black metal albums or even the best thing Drudkh has put out.


Full Disclosure: Review copy provided by Season of Mist

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