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Maintaining a certain sense of mystery in black metal is hardly a novel idea, but even the Ukraine’s Drudkh (Sanskrit for “wood”) take it to a somewhat more puzzling extreme, not printing lyrics in a majority of their released work, being shown in photos, or granting any interviews at all. Formed in Kharkiv in 2002, the project was begun by Hate Forest and Dark Ages member Roman Saenko (guitars and bass), fellow Hate Forest member and Astrofaes vocalist and keyboardist Thurios, and Lucifugum member Yuriy Sinitsky (drums and keyboards). The band drew some criticism from some quarters for embracing arguably “nationalistic” causes, but Drudkh argued that they were merely acting in a politically and culturally “conservative” manner — however that may be interpreted is up to the beholder. Political leanings aside, the band surely was responsible for furthering the ideals of Ukrainian culture and mythology through a atmospheric black metal filter, featuring folk-based music with direct and indirect lyrical inspiration from some of their nation’s most prominent poets, such as Taras Shevchenko. Their first album — Forgotten Legends — first emerged from the band in early 2003. An expansive record, it acted as the blueprint for album number two, Autumn Aurora, which was released in 2004. The main difference this time around, however, was the use of markedly less traditional instruments, such as electronic keyboards and synthesizers. While Drudkh were notorious for not printing their lyrics, as mentioned above, they did make the texts of their next album, 2005′s The Swan Road, available, due in all probability to the fact that all of the album’s words were taken — in some measure — from the poet Shevchenko. More Ukrainian poets — in addition to more Shevchenko — were featured on album number four, 2006′s Blood in Our Wells, which — like much of the band’s work — was released on the Supernal label. While releasing two albums in one year may seem like a relic from rock & roll days past, Drudkh managed exactly that in 2006, pairing the more progressive black metal-leaning Blood in Our Wells with October of that year’s next collection, the decidedly Ukrainian folk record Songs of Grief and Solitude. There was no need to raise a fuss about the lack of lyrics on the latter album of 2006, as it had no lyrics. Featuring a myriad of wind instruments and minimal percussion, the album marked a departure from the more traditional aspects of even a genre as malleable as black metal. A limited (999 copies) edition EP followed in 2007 — entitled Anti-Urban — which marked for the band a return to more “metal” territory, and 2007 also saw the release of a full-length album, Estrangement. Again, the band, which kept a fairly steady and full work schedule, was back in the studio soon after the album’s release to work on album number seven. ~ Chris True