Opening with a loon’s cry, Forgotten Legends announces its natural preoccupations right up front before launching into three momentous tracks of Ukrainian pagan black metal. The first of several Drudkh reissues from Season of Mist, Forgotten Legends captures the band’s early rumblings – a small collection of long songs recorded in the summer of 2002 and released as the band’s official debut. The eerie album artwork, expanded for the re-release, underlines Drudkh’s interweaving of nature and harsh music, a blurry forest and lake bathed in infernal light directly invoking titles like “Forests in Fire and Gold” and “False Dawn.” Despite the epic song lengths, Forgotten Legends isn’t an ambling or loose affair. Drudkh drive their riffs to near-exhaustion while maintaining a continuous constraint. Underneath the droning persistence lies a delicate sense of melody, cloaked in raw distortion that undermines the stifling precision holding it all together. It’s an uncomfortable but delicious balance that culminates in a two and a half minute thunderstorm (“Smell of Rain”). If you already know Drudkh well, none of this is new, but Forgotten Legends is essential folkish black metal listening if you missed it the first time around.
By Laura Wiebe Taylor
(Season of Mist)