Eternal Turn of the Wheel

Human beings have been obsessed with the ideal of beauty ever since scientific philosophers first tried figuring out when aliens first touched down on little ol’ Earth. In the early days of modern science, many scientists tried—but failed—to come up with a wheel that could naturally spin for all eternity on its own without the aid of any artificially applied forces. In more recent cultural output from the modern Japanese entertainment industry, a constantly bickering duo of characters from the wildly popular manga series, “Naruto”, frequently argue over who utilizes a more “artistic” style of killing their victims; with one viewing the fleeting nature of his exploding clay bombs as “true art” and the other, the longevity of his assassination puppets as “true art”.

With such a title for their ninth studio album, the legendary Ukrainian pagan black metal quartet of Drudkh poses to the listener the question: Which side of the beauty argument are they on? Honestly, it is quite hard to tell.

While the album title of “Eternal Turn Of The Wheel” seems to suggest that they are on the side of the guy with the durable assassination puppets, the brief length of this latest studio effort from them seems to suggest that they are on the side of the guy with the exploding clay bombs. At a mere 36 minutes and 8 seconds, this five-track outing is the shortest, black-metal-styled full-length album from the Ukrainian band yet (with the notable exception of their 2006 36-minute folk metal instrumental album, Songs of Grief And Solitude)! And while it may be short, the brief length of the album does add an ironic sense of beauty to the listening experience as a whole, only because of how the music is as beautifully dark as one would expect of one of the best representatives of the exotic style of pagan black metal, while still leaving a strong and potentially everlasting impression in one’s mind with regard to the somewhat misleading album title that seems to hint at a lengthy album run time on the first look.

It brings old-time fans back to the early days of the quartet’s first foray into extreme metal press attention when their debut studio album of Forgotten Legends drew much acclaim, featuring the familiar “wet” sound of nature-themed black metal, only mastered to be slightly clearer this time round, but which still doesn’t come off as being overly-clean as heard in Songs Of Grief And Solitude. It strikes that middle ground between Darkthrone rawness and late-Emperor clarity (perhaps more towards the late-Emperor clarity side). The post-rock influence heard in the 2010 album, Handful Of Stars, is mostly done away with (which might not be a good thing to the people who dug such a new stylistic direction for the band on the previous album), with the most obvious evidence being that the crystal-clear acoustic guitar solo thingamajig makes its presence felt only in the opening instrumental track of “Eternal Circle”, and as a melancholic solo that lasts for approximately a minute and a half in the third track, “When Gods Leave Their Emerald Halls”. Otherwise, the rest of the music is made up of pummeling but sorrowful black metal and the staple pagan black metal theatrical sound effect of the howling winds.

You know what? I think I am simultaneously on the sides of both the dude with the exploding clay bombs and the other dude with the durable assassination puppets; at least, when it comes to a unique pagan black metal record such as this.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Dane Prokofiev
July 3rd, 2012


  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    loved Forgotten Legends, Autumn Aurora and Blood in Our Wells (and Swan Road) but they lost me with Microcosmos and Handful of Stars. Looking fwd to checking this out if it’s back to basics.

  2. Commented by: Broaden City

    …pretty sure they lost everyone with Microcosmos – all that meandering.
    Unsure why I decided to give this a try, though I do remember losing a half hour at work, captivated by this album.
    Sure it’s Drudkh painting by numbers, so to speak, but there’s a renewed vigour.
    By jove it’s great to have them back.

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