Monday, April 18, 2011

Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s)


Blut Aus Nord
777 - Sect(s)
Debemur Morti Productions

There are few acts within the progressive black metal scene that have confused and enthralled listeners alike over the years like French based outfit Blut Aus Nord. Never ones to stick to any a particular style or direction for more than one release, the trio (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Vindsval, bassist GhÖst and keyboardist/electronics/drummer W.D. Feld) have created a body of work (Seven full-length efforts, two split releases and two E.P.’s) that has defied any clear categorisation, which has in turn earned them a reputation as one of the more forward thinking and innovative acts within the black metal scene.
Following on from their ‘What Once Was... Liber I’ release from last year (Which was only available on vinyl, and their first release for Debemur Morti Productions), Blut Aus Nord have returned with their latest full-length effort ‘777 - Sect(s)’ - the first of what is said to be a trilogy of albums planned to be released within the next year.
Split into six chapters, ‘777 - Sect(s)’ is an album that’s ideally listened to as a whole to be fully appreciated, as each movement flows through from one to the next, and therefore allows the full scope of Blut Aus Nord’s rather experimental piece of sonic art to fully reveal its many layers and textures. It’s a bold undertaking from the band, but one that works on many different levels.
The opening piece ‘Epitome I’ sees the band get the album off to a truly chaotic and blasting start, with the musical soundscape full of descending riff structures and vocals from Vindsval that matches the harsh and brutal feel of the music with a cold rasp that carries as much bite and it does aggression. The tense atmosphere does let up a little around the halfway mark to allow a slowing down of the pace and the venom of the speeding opening, but even then the eerie industrial aspects of the band’s vast tapestry of sounds rarely allows a single glimmer of light amongst the shadows that envelop the song as a whole.
The predominately instrumental follow up ‘Epitome II’ is a definite stand out cut with its hypnotic industrialised keyboard work, gentle guitar underpinning and dominant drums, while ‘Epitome III’ sees a returns to the aggressive and speeding direction found on the opener, with the twisted guitar sounds giving the track a harsh tone that’s quite unsettling, and yet mesmerising at the same time.
The uncomfortable vibe that shadowed the former flows through to ‘Epitome IV’ with relative ease, but is softened by processed vocals, soft keyboard undertones and gentler riff structures, while the latter half of the track sees the band eventually drift away from the repetitive groove to indulge into some abstract chord structures that are delivering in what can only be described as a bludgeoning Meshuggah-like fashion.
Despite its hasty and vicious start, ‘Epitome V’ eventually settles into a melodic groove where the dynamics between all the instruments are utilised to create a unique sub-industrialised avant-garde progressive black metal feel (Without sounding generic or forced), while the closer ‘Epitome VI’ maintains the strong experimental aspects of the former to bring the album to a climatic conclusion.
There are plenty of so-called progressive black metal outfits, but there are few that are as daring and adventurous as Blut Aus Nord. ‘777 - Sect(s)’ is hard to pin down and describe, both as an album, and comparably to the band’s former works. But what I can say is that if you’re a fan of Blut Aus Nord’s former albums, or after something that’s a little more on the avant-garde side of black metal, you shouldn’t go past ‘777 - Sect(s)’.

For more information on Blut Aus Nord, check out - http://www.blutausnord.com/

© Justin Donnelly