So, in an attempt to keep the title of my blog truthful, I have my first review.
The Drukne half of this split is made up largely of rawer black metal and opens with “Buried Ashes.” This track deserves to be singled out simply because of how poorly it was recorded and mixed. Now, of course, raw black metal isn’t known for having good recording quality, but when the drums sound as if they were recorded by a mic that had been stuffed in a garbage bag full of cotton and locked away in the neighbor’s basement before you began to record, you begin to have somewhat of an issue. And the guitars are so much more prominent than the rest of the instruments that the first time I listened to the song I was unsure if there were any drums being played or if that was just static from the background noise.
Fortunately, the recording quality picks up for the rest of the albums and the mix is tolerable. Not so fortunately, the music is less than exciting. The drums vary enough between blast beats and some slower, more rhythmic patterns in an attempt to keep things interesting but fail to hold this release together. Each song has what is basically a single, fast riff which is altered slightly to attempt to hold the listener’s interest, but with so little variation even songs that are just six or seven minutes drag on far too long. The first two songs feature very artificial and edited vocals and the next two have somewhat typical, higher pitched vocals.
There are sparse moments of quality dispersed throughout Drukne’s half of the split for sure, but many things simply drag it down. The guitar work is fair and with (a lot) more variation and some tempo changes, their next album could be interesting. The vocals on “Buried Ashes” and “The Dispiser” are far too edited and would have been better served by the higher pitched vocals. Some of the more interesting parts of the album, the guitars in “The Dispiser,” are overshadowed by occasional bouts of overenthusiastic cymbal bashing. But what’s most confusing is the acoustic instrumental at the end. “Heralding” serves no real purpose and although it’s not a bad piece by any means, it’s very out of place at the end of a raw black metal album that I can’t help but to dislike it.
The The Sons of Dead Druids (or TSDD) half of this split is also raw black metal. In fact, TSDD was the previous version of Drukne. The two bands are so similar that it’s pointless to give TSDD a longer review. The same issues I had with Drukne exist in TSDD; iffy recording, songs that are longer than they should be, little variation in the guitar work or drumming, and extremely edited vocals. This half of the album doesn’t have a poorly chosen acoustic outro thankfully, but the whole effort just comes across as a slightly more mediocre version of an amateur band.
Ultimately, Elder Runes fails to achieve anything. If I had to choose a single word to describe the album, I would either select ‘annoying’ or ‘amateurish.’ The album clocks in at almost an hour but at the end, instead of feeling like you’ve gone somewhere, be it the depths of hell or through en epic, snow covered forest, you really only feel sad that you’ve wasted your time and money.