As a part of being signed to Season of Mist and because of their rapidly growing reputation, Ukrainian Black Metallers DRUDKH are getting their back-catalogue reissued. While being a decidedly strong album, "The Swan Road" holds the odd position of being squeezed between what is often considered DRUDKH's two masterpieces, "Autumn Aurora" (2004) and "Blood In Our Wells" (2006). In spite of this, there is no doubt that the album stands out perfectly well on its own, taking us back to those now familiar Slavonic steppes and golden forests.
All the characteristics that made the first two DRUDKH albums unforgettable can be found here; from the distorted organic-sounding production and the vaguely repetitive BURZUM-worship, to the longing for pre-modern times and nationalistic pride. Acoustic strumming especially helps lifting the atmosphere from your standard melancholic Black Metal to a unique Folk-tinged sound, while Thurios harshly recites lyrics adapted from the Ukrainian national poet Taras Schevchenko.
After the eminent "Blood In Our Wells," DRUDKH has gained a solid following, not only amongst the self-professed underground-elite, but by Black Metal fans as a whole. One doesn't need to listen through "The Swan Road" many times to understand that this is one band that has deserved their peculiar rise from being a rather obscure eastern-European band flirting with NSBM-themes.
The memorable riffs are plentiful, the solos are subtle and powerful, and there is genuine emotion to be felt behind every song - the closing number "Song Of Sich Destruction" is, notably, a fully acoustic Folk song. Due to the consistency in its depressing yet wonderfully patriotic anthems, namedropping particular tracks would be a waste of time since this album is best taken in as a whole.
Most Black Metal fans should already be familiar with DRUDKH and their, at times, immensely powerful display of genuine and heartfelt Black Metal. Even though "The Swan Road" is sometimes disregarded when compared to its preceding and follow-up releases, it remains an obligatory album and comes damn close to being a landmark of the genre.
(Online November 5, 2010)