Drudkh – Eastern Frontier in Flames (Season of Mist)

Sunday, 2nd February 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Ukrainian titans of pagan black metal, Drudkh, through Season of Mist records, have released a collection of material spanning three EPs onto one release entitled Eastern Frontier in Flames.  Combining two out-of-print EP’s (2007’s Anti-Urban and 2010’s Slavonic Chronicles) with their three songs from the new vinyl-only split EP with Winterfylleth, the release consists of five cover songs and two original tracks.

Eastern Frontier in Flames begins with the Anti-Urban portion, starting with the song “Fallen into Oblivion,” and it’s really a shame that the master tape for this song didn’t suffer the same fate as the title suggests.  This wretched instrumental song has to be most boring, impotent, and bad sounding Drudkh song I’ve heard.  That it takes seven minutes to reach the end starts things off here on a pretty bad foot indeed.  Things improve with the mediocre “Ashes” thanks to its decent chord progression, in spite of its thin production and weird mechanical sounding drums, but mostly because it’s not the first song.  Overall, Anti-Urban is a bad EP, not worthy of re-release.

Now for the good – the cover tunes.  Like a breath of fresh air, “Tam Gdzie Gasnie Dzien” (a Sacrilegium cover) thankfully sweeps in to keep this compilation alive.  The difference in quality is staggering in both material and production – rich, musical and potent.  Good use of backing vocals, flute, keyboards, crunchy rhythms and distorted leads come together in classic Drudkh fashion, and with plenty of fast black metal bite.  Track four (which is song two from the Slavonic Chronicles EP) is a Master’s Hammer song and is fairly progressive, straying a bit from their normal feel, keeping things in a slower, more heavy metal spirit.

Eastern Frontier in Flames concludes with songs written by Hefeystos, Unclean, and (once more) Sacrilegium.  As reviewed here, these songs from the Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates split EP are great – Drudkh sounding fresh and interesting. So 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, and for the latter two EP’s only, Eastern Frontier in Flames has to be recommended to fans.

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