DRUDKH are founded in Kharkiv, the second biggest city of Ukraine in the year 2002, when guitarist Roman Sayenko and singer/guitarist Thurios begin to compose music that does not fit their band HATE FOREST. On DRUDKH's debut "Forgotten Legends" (2003), which consists of three epic tracks, they create a trademark sound which is later branded as Slavonic Pagan Metal. The Ukrainians embrace epic folk-influenced melodies and create cinematic and luxuriant atmospheres charged with bitterness, melancholy and sorrow. Lyrically creative figurehead Roman Sayenko delves into nature mysticism, the passing of seasons, philosophy, Ukrainian mythology, legends and history – often inspired by the works of nineteenth and twentieth century Ukrainian poets.
DRUDKH's second full length "Autumn Aurora" (2004) can be seen as the very opposite artistic approach to the anger and bereavement that speaks out of HATE FOREST as this atmospheric masterpiece creates visions of eastern landscapes and seasons in cinematic colours before the inner eye.
While melodies and rhythms inspired by Slavic traditions have already been inherent in DRUDKH's music right from the beginning, their third album "The Swan Road" (2005) for the first time contains clear references to traditional folk music. Simultaneously the sound takes on a more aggressive stance. This intense urgency is born out of Roman's choice of topic. Lyrically this album is inspired by the poem "The Haidamaky" (1841) by Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko (1814-1861), who has been called "the founding father of Ukrainian literature".
DRUDKH continue lyrically on their patriotic path with the following release "Blood in our Wells" (2006), which witnesses an increase in the use of progressive elements and classical Heavy Metal influences. In the same year the Ukrainians surprise their adherents by a melancholic, entirely instrumental and partly acoustic album derived from their country's traditional music as well as their own compositions named "Songs of Grief and Solitude" (2006).
As DRUDKH reveal their deep Folklore roots long before the current trend, some of their followers express fears that their favourite band might have left the ways of Black Metal for good. Yet those anxieties are soon laid to rest by the sixth album "Estrangement" (2007), which has the Ukrainians returning to a harsh and barren Black Metal sound including blast beats for the first time. This clear step back to basics has already been forestalled by the earlier release of the EP "Anti-Urban" (2007), which also incorporates some extreme doom influences.
By now DRUDKH have acquired a remarkably loyal and strong fan base, but also a false reputation of promoting political extremism that is nowhere reflected in the band's lyrics and music. The sources of these rumours are interested parties, who try to abuse DRUDKH for their own agenda as well as a sad ignorance of Ukrainian history, but also unfortunate miscommunications caused by an Eastern European band often unaware of the fineries and taboos of the West and especially Germany. Therefore Roman Sayenko feels the need to break his expressed silence, when signing to Season of Mist to clearly outline his position for once and all in a public statement: "During all its history, the band followed a 'no photos, no interviews, no website, no gigs' policy, which was nobly accepted by DRUDKH's new label Season of Mist. The absence of any comments or information from DRUDKH's side gave an opening to a few ignorant internet warrior-fans to spread rumours, that the band embraces some extreme political views. This is absolutely misleading and a total profanation, since there is nothing in DRUDKH's music or lyrics that would suggest any political outlook. DRUDKH praise individualism, self-improvement and estrangement from modern values."
The Ukrainians' first album on Season of Mist "Microcosmos" (2009) stands firmly in the tradition of their earlier work, yet at the same time takes a big step. Deep melancholy and ancient longing permeates the heart and soul of DRUDKH's music once as "Microcosmos" captures that precious essence of sadness in their individual brand of Slavonic Heathen Metal. Its highly atmospheric songs enthused critics and adherents alike with this magical album appearing on many a Best of 2009 list at the end of the year.
The cooperation between Season of Mist and DRUDKH deepens as the band chose their new label to re-release all their previous albums in the months before their next masterpiece is unleashed unto the expectant world. Once this project is finalised in June 2010, the Ukrainians surprise their massive fan base again with another unexpected twist in musical direction. Following their expressed values of individualism and self-improvement “Handful of Stars” witnesses the band moving into a more atmospheric and progressive direction, while keeping and even expanding their unique sound. Lyrically DRUDKH take their inspiration mainly from the lyrics of Ukrainian poets Oleksa Stefanovych and Svyatoslav Gordynskyj on “Handful of Stars”.
With “Eternal Turn of the Wheel” DRUDKH are now returning to their black roots. In an ever evolving metamorphosis the Ukrainians take several steps back from the sound of their previous release “Handful of Stars” (2010), which took a more progressive and lighter direction. “Eternal Turn of the Wheel” owes deeply to their early legacy from the Nordic Black Metal inspired debut “Forgotten Legends” (2003) via the cinematic soundscapes of “Autumn Aurora” (2004) to the traditional influences rising on “The Swan Road” (2005). Instead of re-discovering Ukrainian poets, mastermind Roman Sayenko also relies on self-penned lyrics again with each song representing a season.
To their dedicated following this change does not come as a surprise as DRUDKH took many turns in their career since their inception in 2002. Not wanting to take his band further down the progressive road, Roman Sayenko founds OLD SILVER KEY and enlists vocalist Neige (ALCEST) in order to pursue that path. With all Seventies Rock elements out of the equation again “Eternal Turn of the Wheel” comes as a logical step. DRUDKH rediscover the dark harsh melancholy that permeates their music, which is often dubbed Slavonic Heathen Metal. This perfect soundtrack for a harsh winter will slowly reveal ever more of its secrets with each fresh spin. Drown all light and listen.