DRUDKH Microcosmos

When signing to Season of Mist just prior to releasing Microcosmos, Ukraine's DRUDKH stipulated that they would continue not to participate in photo shoots, interviews, create websites or perform live shows. For some bands, this would be the kiss of death, but their lush blend of Slavic-folk and death metal, i.e. "Slavonic Heathen Metal" needs no media hype. Sparse on vocals, which seem to serve as simply punctuation instead of an anchor, the six tracks are bolstered by bassist Krechet, whose smooth application of groove-influenced rhythms, especially on "Distant Cries of Cranes," are high in the mix, strangely but nicely prominent. While "Widow's Grief" is the heaviest track (and finishes with a haunting, tranquil passage), "Days that Passed" and "Ars Poetica" include beautiful and thoughtful acoustic interludes. It's a beautiful, albeit dark album and on their eighth release, DRUDKH continues to defy the stereotype that folk / black metal is irrelevant. (Season of Mist)