The very concept of instrumental metal is one that’s about as original as instrumental rock, but it’s quite more difficult to pull off more so than it’s rock counterpart simply because while heaviness on its own is something that can draw a crowd, can it keep the momentum going with a growl or shriek to guide the listener forward? Bands like Clouds Taste Satanic have done it in immaculate fashion, and it’s tonight that I truly do think that French act Dragunov should be classified as one of the most intriguing bands in all of the instrumental metal world.
With such a simple but striking cover art, there was very little chance that I wouldn’t dive right into whatever it was that Dragunov was serving up with “Arkhipov”, and coming out of this bombastic record I can’t help but feel I’ve listened to something truly awesome. Boasting a theme that circles around the Cuban missile crisis (more than likely around the Russian side of the story but fuck if I know, there aren’t any lyrics for me to say for sure!) and it is everything that I could’ve ever asked for from a form of post-sludge metal with an instrumental coating. It makes the entirety of “Arkhipov” truly something to behold as the power speaks absolute volumes while we, as listeners, are left enraptured on a scale that only the best of the instrumental world can provide on such a scale and with such excellence to boot, and I can’t help but feel compelled to put Dragunov right there as such a band. The drums are simply commanding with every pound, the strings dazzle you like very few other works of sludge can, and every single composition that’s brought forth for “Arkhipov” leave you bewildered in such a way that we only ever hope for from an album like this and it’s at every feasible turn Dragunov delivers on a masterful scale that’s simply enthralling. So much of this record is enough to electrify the listener and keep them planted in their seat all the way until that final note, and, hopefully, this work will get the accolades that it deserves in good time.
This is very much a gem of Bandcamp that I just happened upon, which, a lot of the time, is how I or anyone finds really good works throughout the site: happenstance. Dragunov suffers the same fate of relative obscurity like hundreds of other worthy acts out there in the world, but it’s single-handedly with this album that they have proven themselves to be more than worthy of the limelight and it’s each piece of “Arkhipov” that proves that time after time.
LISTEN to “Arkhipov” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Dragunov on Facebook here.