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While most of the rest of the country is slowly freezing to death in the "polar vortex," my little burg in the west has been encased in an endless fog. I finally got a chance to listen to the new split between Drudkh and Winterfylleth over the weekend, and the smoke-gray mist was an excellent backdrop.

But “split” is not quite the right description for this record, entitled Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates. The chosen format is a vinyl 12-inch, limited to 666 copies. But it’s also a covers album. Ukrainian masters Drudkh and UK band Winterfylleth were tasked with “paying tribute” to their musical influences and inspirations. For Drudkh, that means a Hefeystos cover, an Unclean cover, and a Sacrilegium cover, all little-known bands from Eastern Europe. Wynterylleth covers Drudkh, in a sense. Their song is actually a Hate Forest song, which featured Drudkh members.

Drudkh also just released an EP called Eastern Frontier In Flames, a release on CD and digital download, which features the two songs from the 2007 Anti-Urban EP plus the two songs from 2010′s Slavonic Chronicles covers EP.

So, now that the paperwork has been sorted: looking out my window at nothing but gray trees shrouded in mist and hearing Drudkh ease into the hypnotic first track, which translates from Polish as “In The Land of Trees,” was chill-inducing. It’s not their song, of course, but it’s a concentrate of everything that’s great about Drudkh: rhythmic atmosphere, invincible head-nodding tempo, and dark, partly-spoken raspy vocals.

The beat on the second track is militaristic, though there’s chaos over everything, suggesting a walk into battle. About halfway through, great swirls of energy take over briefly before the band seems to depart the field intact. Sacrilegium’s "Recidivus" is immediately faster and harsher than the other two songs. Dark and cold, the song drifts into repetitive rhythms and snarled vocals before exploding in its final minute.

Finally we have Winterfylleth, with the longest track on the album, at nine minutes. “The Gates” takes its time, slowly forming out of the mist as the vocals seem to summon it. I don’t know the original song, but it’s clear that Winterfylleth and Hate Forest use a more brute approach; the drum and bass attack, and the guitars buzz nonstop. The song seems to want to move around but can’t. Even when new sounds enter, the movement is only forward. It's claustrophobic.

Given Drudkh’s track record of late, with each album different in form and mixed in quality, one interesting aspect of both this album,and the Eastern Frontier In Flames EP is that they leave no clear indication of what the band's next move will be. Whatever it is, these covers hopefully indicate a reinvigorated Drudkh with more greatness to come.

— Vanessa Salvia

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Thousands of Moons Ago / The Gates
1. Drudkh -"W Krainie Drzew" (Hefeystos cover)
2. Drudkh - "Ten, Ktery Se Vyhyba Svetlu" (Unclean cover)
3. Drudkh - "Recidivus" (Sacrilegium cover)
4. Winterfylleth - "The Gates" (Hate Forest cover)

Eastern Frontier In Flames
1. "Fallen Into Oblivion"
2. "Ashes"
3. "Tam Gdzie Gasnie Dzien" (Sacrilegium cover)
4. "Indiánská Písen Hruzy" (Master's Hammer cover)
5. "W Krainie Drzew" (Hefeystos cover)
6. "Ten, Ktery Se Vyhyba Svetlu" (Unclean cover)
7. "Recidivus" (Sacrilegium cover)

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