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Drudkh and Paysage d’Hiver Paint Black Metal in Autumn and Winter Tones

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Black metal’s color schemes can be broken down into two essential palettes: the earth tones of autumn’s wane and harsh monochrome of winter. Though there are oceanic and… pink outliers, these feelings of warm decay and frigid frost have been hallmarks of black metal atmosphere. From these colors — feelings, textures, definers, what have you — rise giants: those who embody these ideals and atmospheres and rise to the upper echelons of musical worship. Once in a great while, such giants walk in tandem, matching strides. Seeing Drudkh and Paysage d’Hiver (luminaries of atmospheric black metal in themselves) join forces is a strange, emotional experience, full of colors, temperatures, and melody.

Autumn. The wind through the long grasses of the steppe. Brown, orange, and gold. The celebrated sons of Ukraine. Fifteen years have passed since Drudkh first ascended to and took the throne of earthen, atmospheric black metal. Now a full band, they fully intend to reassume the throne. Following years of rediscovery — experimenting with post-rock and outward aggression — the full-band incarnation of Drudkh rediscovers their center once more on Somewhere Sadness Wanders. Though much more modern, with a concentration on blasting and ferocity, the two songs Drudkh offer here reference their first four albums for inspiration. The music is tragic and romantic — it’s familiar, at least to those who cut their teeth on their earlier material — the Romans Saenko and Blagih concentrating their efforts on the folkish melodies which helped define their career. Though familiar and “classic” feeling, Drudkh’s new character still shines through: their rhythm section rages and blasts, and there is a general sense of instrumental intricacy. However, for “fuddy duddies” who prefer older material, Somewhere Sadness Wanders is a step in the right direction, fusing old passion with this newer sense of power.

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Winter. Unforgiving ice. Pure, blistering whiteness. Total Alpine isolation. Much like E. Elias Merhige, who manually edited out any grey tones from Begotten frame by frame, Paysage d’Hiver’s own existence can be defined in monochrome. With twenty years’ experience crafting the coldest music, Tobias “Wintherr” Möckl’s solo effort captures the massive, cold presence of the Swiss Alps which he calls home. The fourth addition to his “Schnee” series (listen to the other installments here), Wintherr’s odes to the overwhelming Alpine snows is continually monumental. As it is with each Paysage d’Hiver song, this new chapter elicits strong mental visions. With its opening blur, “Schnee (IV)” paints an overwhelming snowstorm. Much like slowly regaining visual focus in blinding conditions, Wintherr’s melodic, raw hypnosis is fast and unforgiving, but gives way to beauty just beneath its high-end blur. Across its 19 minutes (long songs are a standard across the Paysage d’Hiver discography), “Schnee (IV)” slowly reveals itself, going from a strange black shape in the distance to the overwhelmingly vast, stark mountain face which looms above you. Referring back to the grey tones above, this new song marks a new era in Wintherr’s own artistic color palette. There is a density to “Schnee (IV);” it’s thicker and more organic than the music which predates it. Though not approaching warmth, as Paysage d’Hiver’s existence is defined by hiver, winter, there isn’t such a stark black/white distinction… but the majesty remains all the same. “Schnee (IV)” carries an unusual human-like character which has been largely absent from Wintherr’s overall body of work, but it is still breathtaking.

Somewhere Sadness Wanders/Schnee (IV) will be released by Season of Mist and Prophecy Productions on August 25th, just before Summer’s wane. Pre-order the records here (if there are any left). Listen to all of Drudkh’s portion of this monumental split and a five-minute excerpt [Editor’s Note: Hey, I’ll take what I can get.] of Paysage d’Hiver’s 19-minute mammoth below.

Follow Drudkh on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Follow Paysage d’Hiver on Bandcamp.

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