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When talking about Blut Aus Nord, the most difficult thing for me to do is explain the faults of the band. Perhaps that's just my own fanboy bias sneaking in--if you've read my previous reviews for BAN you'll notice I'm not exactly hard on them or anything. I went pretty easy on the albums I didn't like, only really being able to muster up criticisms that amounted to "this isn't particularly pleasant or memorable" for the more discordant and mechanical albums in his discography. Saying why it is that those albums do nothing for me should probably go beyond that, though. I mean, we're dealing with dissonant black metal here, and I don't even find myself humming along to the Blut Aus Nord riffs I do find memorable-there's a certain inimitable weirdness to Vindsval's riff style. In addition, it's clear that a lot of time and effort went into pretty much any aspect of any album by this band, even when the results are kind of shitty sounding.
That's not the only thing that makes Sect(s) more difficult to criticize, though. Much the same way Odinist attempted to rectify every shortcoming you could imagine with MoRT while still retaining the core characteristics of the band's gloomy, industrial side, Sect(s) improves upon the creepier aspects of Odinist, adding a touch of some actual goddamn variety and dynamic this time around. Sure, he's still basically trying to capture the atmosphere of Work Which Transforms God when he isn't doing the Memoria Vetusta series, but personally I think Work, while still solid, is the most overrated album in Vindsval's catalog. Perhaps a more intricate, controlled and layered approach to the same kind of sound is exactly what industrial BAN needs to really pull this style off masterfully.
I think that may just be my underlying issue with industrial BAN, though--there's too much control. Part of what makes their best albums so enjoyable is the almost overwhelming barrage of great musical ideas you're subjected to in such a short timeframe. Dialogue With the Stars would let a riff linger for just long enough that you get the idea of what it's about, instantly exploding into another riff that was just as good right afterward. Vindsval doesn't seem to be capable of writing a straight-up shitty riff, so if I have more riffs in a smaller package, it's pretty much always better for this band. When Blut Aus Nord chooses to go to the industrial side of their sound, though, the songs move slower and more subtly. I guess that's what makes this band so strange to criticize for me; while I usually condemn songwriting that isn't given the proper time to repeat and unfold, I tend to dislike Blut Aus Nord albums more the fewer riffs they have. When this huge 777 trilogy got announced, I was super excited because I couldn't wait to hear Vindsval jam-pack three albums full of dope riffs, but now that I've gotten a chance to give Sect(s) some time to actually grow on me I can't help but feel like pretty much all the songs on this album are way longer than they need to be.
At the end of the day, Sect(s) doesn't really match the expectations it lays for itself in terms of musical enjoyment. You can argue for this and maybe give it the benefit of the doubt because it's the introduction to a three-part series, but while those albums are perhaps marginally better in some ways they don't particularly enhance the quality of this album by proximity effect. This band is certainly no stranger to throwing you a few curveballs, so I guess the album is worth a listen out of curiosity for being part of a big series of albums. Honestly, though, Sect(s) feels like more of a chore to listen to than any of their other albums, because at least all of their past works had something original to offer. This album really just sounds like it's going over the same sort of tricks Vindsval has always used, just wrapped in a different package. Though it's not like his warped and aversive dissonant riffs sound like anyone else, at the same time, since he's used similar ideas on previous albums, they don't stand out as much. The music follows a pretty consistent pattern of tension and release that spans across the entire album if swallowed in one go. It's pretty easy to figure out where the music is going, even midway through the first listen: there's fast, dissonant vaguely black metal-sounding riffs backed by blastbeats followed by long, slower sections with oddly-timed, mechanical drumming. While the slower sections do feature some very interesting melodies in their own right (they're perhaps some of the most ear-pleasing moments the band has had outside of the Memoria Vetusta albums), they're built into a completely predictable framework and that really ends up being detrimental to the album's quality on the whole.
I can't say much about this album one way or another: it stands out so little that I'll sound like a broken record after long enough. You can certainly make a case that I need to give Sect(s) credit for being the most complete and well-rounded album of Blut Aus Nord's "darker side", but at the same time I just never get the urge to put this album on. Sure, he's playing around with his musical style in a somewhat different manner, but it doesn't end up being enough to draw away from the fact that this just sounds like the same goddamn shit that was on Odinist. Sure, there's a little bit more friendliness and complexity on the surface, but further exploration yields little new territory. From what I can tell, the other two albums in this series seem to be able to hold my attention a little bit better, but even then I'm still on the fence about this one in particular. I might be a rabid fanboy of this band and whatnot, but I find it strange that no one really takes a stab at this album too hard despite it being a fairly lame and uninteresting rehash of Odinist with more slow, spacey melodies. Maybe my expectations were too high since Vindsval had just released one of his best albums a few years ago, but damn this just sounds lazy.
As a fellow of mine said lately, it’s not every day you come across this popular and hyped bands that keep releasing new material constantly whilst still retaining the quality of the music. The odd path that Blut Aus Nord chose on The Mystical Beast of Rebellion - and since then has evolved it through a plethora of other albums - is still present on their latest offering 777 - Sect(s), meaning that the band sounds still as convulsing and twisted as before.
Those familiar with this French group’s earlier efforts know what to expect, indeed: mechanical, capricious black metal that mostly relies on dissonant chords yet, at times, realizes to feed the listener with a bit of tasteful melody. On 777 - Sect(s), it mostly happens on the rather slow-tempo ”Epitome 02” that gets only more epic towards the end with its lead guitar melodies, and on the closer ”Epitome 06” that belongs to the same category of fully welcome breathing moments amidst all the cacophonic and twisted blasting that the album otherwise brings forth.
And what’s best about the other tracks, they actually are real growers instead of unnecessarily meandering artistic nonsense. It does take a couple of spins, but by now the ingenious riffs are comprehended to the extent that the music sounds almost catchy, and that’s a term you often don’t see connected to the repulsive monster named Blut Aus Nord. The centerpiece ”Epitome 04” is the truest example of a song that first might seem to revolve around not-that-exquisite riffs but after a few listens opens up to goosebumps inducing beauty. Of all the five tracks, ”Epitome 05” is the only one that slightly pales in the shadow of the others but I would still regard it as an important part of the whole.
While What Once Was... Liber I was not so mindblowing experience, I’m admittedly really impressed by 777 - Sect(s) on which almost all the previous glitches of a Blut Aus Nord record have been fixed. Most importantly, the material is consistently on high level without any filler material, and it all lasts for a fitting and endurable 46 minutes. Four stars, if not more, are surely deserved here, and yours truly is now wholeheartedly looking forward to hearing the next two chapters of this well-begun trilogy.
4 / 5
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This is one of those albums that does a lot of things right, but just isn't very memorable. When you listen to it, you don't really have any complaints, but when you're done and you put it away, it's easy to just forget. This is a good album don't get me wrong, and I recommend it to any and all atmospheric black metal. It just is not a stand out title by any means. For example, as I'm sure most atmospheric black metal fans have heard, Hviss Lysett Tar Oss is one of those stand out albums. After listening to that, you're mind is blown, and it is hard to think of anything but listening to that album. This does not evoke that feeling.
But few albums do, if every album was that good, us metal heads would'nt have much time for anything else. Having said all that, let's disscuss this album. Compositionaly this album is a repetitve but haunting piece. It's one of those albums that is very relaxing, but chilling at the same time. A bedtime album, or perhaps a midnight stroll album. The guitars have a rather epic sound to them for most of the album, especially on Epitome II. At the same time, they can have a very disturbing edge to them, the intro to Epitome IV for example. The guitars are easily the highlight of the album.
The bass is in it's usual position as a complement to the guitars and, though there are no real stand out moments, is an important part of the album. They provide much needed heaviness to some of the albums darker moments. The drums are very good for an atmospheric album like this. Variation, and power. There are even some decent fills. It's hard to focus on the bass and drums because the guitars are so vital to creating the albums sound, but there are no major issues with the bass or dums. not really amazing or disappointing.
The production is very clean oddly enough. The norm is to have the 'recorded in basement' sound a la Burzum or Mutilation. but this has a rather professional production. However, there is still an airy quality that lends itself to the gritty haunting tone this album evokes. I still think the album would've been better given an underproduced sound, but it still doesn't take away much from the album. Overall, I'm happy with the job.
Noticed anything? This whole album is good. every song. Every part. It just doesn't impress on any real level, which makes it suffer on the whole. It's hard to explain, but I hope I made some sense. Get this album if you're a fan of the genre, just don't expect to be blown away.
For a solid nighttime album with few drawbacks, I give 777 Sect(s) bu Blut Aus Nord a 68 out of 100, or a 3 out of 5.
When historians look back at the year 2011, they will undoubtedly see it as a year where black metal finished out with primacy among the cognoscenti. Whether it was the rise of "hipster" black metal like Liturgy and Krallice, or with more hardened fans of the genre with Blut Aus Nord, top tens everywhere were dominated by black metal records. Blut Aus Nord is among the more interesting acts in anyone's book - equally "visionary" to the bands considered inauthentic hipster gibberish, Blut Aus Nord has the benefit of many years within the world of black metal, along with a Germanic name and a European nation of origin, as is often favored by the limited demo listening to the music.
Much like Liturgy's oft divisive release "Aesthethica," Blut Aus Nord doesn't aspire to create a pure black metal record on the first disc of what is ultimately hoped to be a a trilogy, entitled "777 - Sects". This much is abundantly clear by the second track ("Epitome II") which is a droning, almost space rock like composition seeing the band do its best to channel Space Ritual. The album does have its fair share of speed; one needs look no further than the opening cut or much of tracks 3 and 5 for good examples of a more aggressive BAN. However, the primary focus of the album is a more jazzy, atonal, and occasionally groove oriented writing style heavy on dynamic changes. The sense is that Blut Aus Nord is less looking to the likes of Wagner for inspiration, but instead are approaching more modern composers like Stockhausen or even free jazz to draw ideas from.
(As a brief aside: track 4 offers a great range of what Blut Aus Nord can do - there's speed, there's slow chugging rhythmic sections, there's lots of dissonant passages - the music moves all over the place, much like Liturgy's Aesthethica happened to go with. Production greatly differs though; rather than sounding like Lightning Bolt when looking to focus on bass guitar mashing, Blut Aus Nord instead sounds like a black metal band. Small differences of that sort are what keep people from asking if BAN wears rimmed glasses and tight jeans, but they don't necessarily make the album any better.)
It is probably an accurate assessment that BAN has achieved near universal acclaim from many active members of the metal scene. But for those who aren't nearly so convinced, it's unlikely that this record will convert any of them. When compared to records that are similar in feel and execution such as Thorns self-titled record, December Wolves "Blasterpiece Theater", or Dodheimsgard's "666 International", BAN doesn't tread new ground compared to records often more than a decade in vintage. Existentialist nihilism is not something new put to record - one could argue that the Maharishi Gandharva Veda has been doing it for a great many years - but even in black metal, it has become a bit of a tired subject. Compounding the matter of BAN choosing to tread down a path already cut out is the honest fact that at no point does "777 - Sects" reach for the throat. While BAD noodles around a bit and tells you how smart and dangerous they are song after song, December Wolves ahd already set the house on fire, raped and killed the family, and driven away merely 6 and half minutes into their magnum opus. Even as the CD begins to wind down with "Epitome VI", the band just seems to only to go through the motions, building to a crescendo with a midpaced stomper. Predictably, rather than going out with in a blaze, the record instead chooses to peter out.
If there's an album it most closely resembles in terms of structure to the classic acts of the avant black metal world's origins in the late 1990s, there's little question it is Mayhem's Grand Declaration of War. Like "777 - Sects", GDOW was a record with an overwhelming number of artistic flourishes and dynamic changes, and much like GDOW, Sects feels like an introduction to something much, much more interesting rather than being an interesting thing in and of itself. As part one of such a trilogy, perhaps it will turn out to be just that, but other than hardened metal fans and those already very geeked on the band, it's hard to imagine precisely who will want to take such a long ride after such a taxing opening salvo.
(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
Since The Work that Transformed God, Blut Aus Nord have been known for posessing a unique black metal style that bend the properties of reality. However, with 777 - Sect(s), I'm lead to believe that they don't just want to disconnect us from our reality. In fact, after listening to this, I'm starting to speculate that the elusive Vindsval has schizophrenia.
All the songs in this 777 series begin with the prefix "Epitome". The first of these begins without any bullshit intro and simply dives head first into chaos. The music is very fast paced, and the riffing style makes it sound chaotic. 1:50 marks a slow down point while still maintaining dissonant guitar sounds. It breaks back into the fast paced chaos at 3:55, but different music is played than before the slow break. The "schizophrenia" feel really makes itself well known as the riffs sound like the listener's sanity spiraling down the drain. Eventually, it all stops leaving a very creepy industrial/dark ambient outro.
The second song starts out dissonant sounding chords leading into a slower song. Keyboards add layers of atmosphere already constructed by the guitars. The first half of the song doesn't offer a lot of variation. The dissonant chords give way to a series of lead power chords on guitar. Then, there's a break in the rhythm. This is repeated twice. 4:28 introduces some new notes though that lead into something of a slow guitar solo/lead that plays through the rest of the song. More calm sounding than the first song, but decent all the same. It's good to see that BAN still play the beautiful melodic sounds on guitar that they've been known for.
"Epitome III" is shorter and faster, but is different sounding than the insane sounding first song. The atmosphere is a little less on the schizophrenic side, but there's keyboards in certain parts the music that make it sound like some collage of distorted church music. There's a false end at 3:10 to give way to a slower, creepier tone portrayed by the keyboards and dissonant guitars. The song goes by really fast at such a short length.
The fourth song is the longest one just short of 12 minutes. It's also another slower song. There's dissonant chords and keyboards, but there's vocals that sound like they're being played backwards to reinforce the schizophrenic feel of the music again. 2:02 introduces some melody into the guitar work, but it doesn't last very long. However, it does come back after another series of backwards vocals. After it ends this time, new music is introduced with more dissonant chord structures. Another pause around the 6 minute mark signals another change in the music featuring dissonant guitar work without accompaniment from drums, bass, keys, or vox. About a minute later, a faster section is started with the drums breaking out in blast-beats again. The vocals no longer sound like they're being played backwards. The music finally returns to the slow pace a minute and a half later. Different music is played than other parts of the song. The next time the vocals come in, they are in the form of distorted howling like some unholy choir. Melody is very scarce in this song, making it one of the best examples of the schizophrenic style that Blut Aus Nord seems to be emphasizing in this album.
We return again to fast paced music with "Epitome V". There are parts where the drumming slows down while the guitars continue in their dissonant tremolo riffing. Eventually, this is furthered around the 2 minute mark. The guitars finally do slow down to fit the drums to prepare for a lead. The slow dissonance continues until the music finally speeds up again at the 5:30 mark. You ought to know what it's like by now: reality bending, dissonant, warped, and of course schizophrenic.
And of course, the even numbered songs would be the slower paced ones. Such is the case of the final song. This song has more melody than the other ones here making it a fitting closer to this album by giving it a feel of catharsis (reaching the epitome if you will). The dissonance is still going on underneath the melodic guitar and later the keyboards as well. There are no vocal sounds in this song at all. As teh song goes on, the layers of instrumentation dissipate as the song (and the album) reach the end seemingly slowing down the music even more before finally ending.
Blut Aus Nord are one of those bands that have to try hard to disappoint me. 777 - Sect(s) is an excellent addition to their legacy. But apparently, they aren't done yet. Two more 777 albums are coming out with even more glorious Epitomes. If Sect(s) was any indication, those albums should be glorious as well.
Blut Aus Nord is a band that has climbed to great heights and sunk to equally great depths. Their first four albums are all praiseworthy in their own right. From the lush, melodic sounds of “Ultima Thulee” and “Memoria Vestusta I” to the raw, biting edge of “The Mystical Best of Rebellion” and “The Work Which Transforms God,” the French act with the German name proved to be masters of innovation and transformation. Blut Aus Nord appeared to be an unstoppable force.
And then came the downfall. 2005’s “MoRT” was a dull and dysfunctional mess, lacking structure, coherence and personality. The drop in quality was so severe that it did not appear Blut Aus Nord would ever return to form. The one-dimensional, plodding “Odinist” seemed to confirm this suspicion. A number of mediocre EPs further suggested Blut Aus Nord was past expiration date. However, the majestic “Memoria Vestusta II” was somewhat of a return to form—consisting of a ton of beautiful melodies and excellent atmosphere. Still, nothing suggested that Blut Aus Nord would return to the heights of old. Lo and behold, “777 Sect(s)” is indeed such a return to glory.
Musically, the album picks up where “The Work…” left off, consisting of dark, dissonant riffs and disjointed electric drums. However, “777 Sect(s)” explores larger, more complex song structures and a wider range of tempos. “777 Sect(s)” returns to Blut Aus Nord’s roots, but allows those roots to spread in new directions. What dissonant albums like “MoRT” and “Odinist” lacked was a living, visceral force behind the wall of industrial rhythms. “777 Sect(s)” rectifies this flaw. The dissonant riffs swirl aggressively through the soundscape like a swarm of furious wasps. These are contrasted by melodic leads and solos that hook the listener with odd but entrapping melodies. The industrial beats are full of devious energy, crawling unpredictably in one direction and then another. Eerie keys, wails and whispers create haunting backdrops.
All these dimensions come together in the wild and disorienting opening track, “Epitome 1”. From the opening moment the listener is attacked by swarms of vicious, dissonant riffs, before eventually reaching a steady, groovy middle passage. Suddenly, the music shifts into a series of lightning fast, downward progressions. It’s as if the floor fell out from under you with absolutely no warning. But there is even one more surprise: the song ends with about two minutes of dark, groovy electronica. Believe it or not, the ominous electronica passage is the perfect ending to a thrilling roller coaster of a song.
The doomy “Epitome 2” takes the opposite approach, but is equally as phenomenal, sounding like the soundtrack to the procession of a noble and ruthless king. Dark, menacing melodies lie in the background; regal lead guitars and synths slowly dance across the forefront. The massive “Epitome 4” blends the two approaches, overlaying slow, punching, industrial rhythms with a wide array of twisted riffs and chants. While the other tracks aren’t quite as astounding, they still contain many contorted riffs and addictive melodies.
After a rough stretch from 2005-8, the last two albums show that Blut Aus Nord can still produce intense, powerful and original black metal. However, while “Memoria Vestusta II” took an easier route—beautiful, sweeping, melodic songs—“777 Sect(s)” holds no bars, pushing the boundaries of black metal through intricate song structures, odd rhythms and a constant interplay of melody and dissonance. Easily their best work in eight years, “777 Sect(s)” reminds us just what Blut Aus Nord is capable of.
(Originally written for http://listenwell-nocturnal.blogspot.com)
Blut Aus Nord walk a path of relentless evolution. If you've traveled this road with them, you're certain to have an open mind and an appreciation for the stranger recesses of black metal. 777 – Sect(s) is an album whose allure is undeniable but difficult to grasp. If you described it to me on paper, I'd most likely walk away baffled. Insert it into my ears, however, and these awry tunes make perfect sense.
777 – Sect(s) exudes a deliberate patience and zen calm while transmitting volumes of aural execration. Some tracks are delivered with extreme dispatch (“Epitome 1” and “Epitome 3”), but blastbeaten speed is not the band's modus operandi on this album. These songs move with a measured, moderate and mid-paced step, sounding for all the world like a black metal chain-gang breaking rocks on the side of the road to hell. Arpeggiations both alien and subtly simple give 777 – Sect(s) the pulsing, grand and expansive feel of a post-apocalyptic movie soundtrack.
When the band turns on the speed, guitar lines rise and fall in a manic game of shoots and ladders. Melodies slither and twist with the anomalous, sliding, chromatic ooze we expect from Blut Aus Nord. For the most part, though, caustic riffs walk, stride and stroll in all manner of gaits, producing a dissonant, diverse death march. At the core of this martial spirit is an enthralling rhythmic display; the drumming is miraculous and absurd. I can't consistently discern if these beats are programmed or human, but it matters little in the end. 777 – Sect(s) just moves, and its industrial cadence demands that I move along with it.
The album is a definite departure from its predecessor. Memoria Vetusta II was concerned with vast, psychedelic harmonies, and that effort feels diffuse when compared to the focused, exacting sound of 777 – Sect(s). This stylistic direction shouldn't come as a surprise to a long-time listener of the band. MoRT displayed some of the same odd, moldering eccentricity, but this newest effort is far more listenable. The new LP also shares in some of the jangly pacing that made The Work That Transforms God so gloriously odd. The riffs on 777 – Sect(s), however, sound more compelling to my ears, sticking primarily to realms of enjoyment rather than mere curiosity.
777 – Sect(s) is filled with incredible nuance. Listeners should expect some of the expertly deployed synthesizers and bits of haunting operatic chant that the band have utilized in the past. Lead guitars add curious and memorable accents, offering a thread of continuity from Memoria Vetusta II. Pieces of unaccompanied, outlandish guitar melody speak not of artistic indulgence, but of a preternatural creativity. The vocals are delivered with a grotesque and satisfying acrimony, often played back in reverse to produce an unsettling atmosphere. The lyrical scraps we are thrown in the album sleeve are printed entirely in French. When translated, the words appear to be cryptic existential axioms, pondering man's confusion in the face of nothingness.
777 – Sect(s) is evidently the first in an upcoming trilogy of albums from Blut Aus Nord. Given the fascinating ideas explored herein, I eagerly await the second and third installments. I would expect nothing more than resolute metamorphosis.
Originally published here: http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/cd-review-blut-aus-nord-777-sects
In which Blut Aus Nord almost make a Godflesh album. That's going too far. What I meant to say is that the razor is my hand and the means to a uncomfortable end of days lays in this album's harrowing nihilism. That's pretentious. A dark Disneyland of dissonant chording and chaotic noodling. Closer to the mark, but this is getting out of hand. Blut Aus Nord have made an experimental nightmare come to life, and describing it is kind of trying to grasp the details of that fresh nightmare after waking.
I can't help but feel that this is a weird kind of Godflesh album, though. The dank rusted musical corners the music explores reside in the same bombed out neighborhood. The songs, or compositions, are demarcated as Epitomes 1-6, and longest of them, Epitome 4, is the greatest dirge never Justin Broadrick wrote. And in between the blistering, strangely churning black metal, when the music exhausts itself enough to slow down, it manifests as a slow industrial hell engulfed by a lava of molten iron. That's the strange new world these Frenchmen are exploring.
And when your guitars chime and resonate as they do here, when your percussion pounds like a million strange anvils, when the sound is as dense and impenetrable as a black hole, then yes, comparisons to Godflesh may apply. Not vocally, though. The vocals are still a very familiar black metal croak, a shrill witch/demon cry. And these songs/opuses are not nearly as repetitive, taking many jarring twists, blasting off into oblivion often, and then, unexpectedly becomes a quasi-dance/trance oddity.
All in all, a jarring and ugly industrial hellride. Recommended.
No Blut Aus Nord release ever fails to offer the listener a harrowing and uncomfortable journey to it's conclusion, a trait which new album, "777 - Sect(s)", the band's 8th full-length, has embraced and attempted to take to it's logical conclusion. 2009's "Memoria Vetusta II" was a grand, ethereal and ultimately extremely rewarding release that really exhibited the band's potential to this writer, but to expect a logical successor to it would be to mis-understand the entire being of BAN where normal conventions are jettisoned in favour of an off-kilter approach towards pretty much everything.
The misanthropic French trio take the now common mysterious approach to the black metal craft and fire it skywards, in the process ignoring all logic on riff and song structures. "Epitome I" (all seven tracks are named in such a style) has the sonic aura of distinguished minds and candescent visions behind it as discordant sounding riffs cascade into one other as if their more reasoned approach is being distorted by the onset of the cosmic black hole that is the tracks closing atmospheric, synthesised section. "Epitome II" is a slower counterweight to the bludgeoning tracks it is sandwiched by but the riff at it's spine is no less arousing as it sets a tone of vastness and majesty which is apparent throughout the whole 45 minutes.
More so than almost all BM bands the use of synthesised ambience feels necessary to the work BAN undertake. It's spacey, cold air bleeds into the heavily distorted and suffering vocals of Vindsval to create the feelings of nightmarish anxiety to be found most clearly in "Epitome IV". Throughout, the vocals of Vindsval are used sparingly as his philosophical outpourings are greatly outnumbered by the procession of intertwined riffs and ambient exchanges, some of which are now only beginning unravel themselves to me after a number of recent listens.
To be sure whether "777 - Sect(s)" tops Blut Aus Nord's own high standards of previous efforts is perilously difficult to say so early into what must by all necessities be a long journey, but it is most clear how well it does succeed by the band's own standards. Rather than feel constricted by their own styles or devoid of ideas as a band is free to do so after this many releases, BAN instead continue to peddle their own niche of black metal's analysed panopticon here and for as long as the journey remains this perilous, long may it continue.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
There's no questioning the matter that French black metal trio Blut Aus Nord are quite an ambitious act. From the primitive sounds of black metal, the band has crafted a sound through dark experimentation that they can largely call their own; taking a hint from both industrial and neoclassical styles. In lieu of the band's great ambition and motivation to get music out, 2011 will see the tentative release of three Blut Aus Nord albums, the first of which being '777 - Sect(s)'. Although there is little known to the public about this '777' trilogy thus far, 'Sects' opens this musical series on a very promising note.
As is quite typical for black metal, the sound on '777 - Sects' is very dark. This sense and feeling of darkness ranges from the melancholic, to downright malefic, as Blut Aus Nord takes their music through a variety of dynamic changes and shifts in tone. Sharing a core black metal sound with fellow French compatriots Deathspell Omega, the band here makes the heavier black metal aspect of their sound incredibly technical at times, reliant on rapidfire bursts of dissonance. However, what sets Blut Aus Nord apart is their lengthy pursuits into long, minimalistic and dirgesque passages. For longer periods than some black metal fans may be comfortable with, Blut Aus Nord will take the heaviness and speed down a notch to something that could even be considered 'mellow' by black metal standards, although the overbearing sense of darkness runs deep. If Blut Aus Nord knows anything, they know how to keep an intense feeling going throughout an entire piece, regardless of the changes in dynamic.
Although the band seems to have mastered their post-metal leanings with the success of these extended instrumental passages in mind, the heavier moments can sometimes feel a little overcooked, being incredibly visceral and impressive, but simultaneously leaving the listener with somewhat less to grab onto than what would have been perfect for this. That being said, 'Sects' has a technicality to it that is incredibly rare for a genre of music not well regarded for the finer aspects of musicianship. Even in the less complex moments of the music, the band's attention to particular guitar tones is masterful, and showcases the composition in the darkly aesthetic way they were intended to.
Although the year has already seen some great black metal records come out, 'Sects' manages to compete with the best of them, and while not all of the musical ideas here seek to capture the imagination, Blut Aus Nord concocts a work that both stands as a brilliant work of avant-garde black metal, as well as a promising overture to forthcoming albums by this band.
With such a dazzling panoply of distortion at their backs, it becomes a bit of a guessing game to where Blut Aus Nord are next going to steer their career. Individual releases tend to variate greatly from one another with but a few constants, and then reappear, years and miles down the creative highway as if they'd never lapsed from sight. 777 - Sect(s), the 8th full-length from the French entrepreneurs, does not actually bring as much of the unexpected to the table as several of the band's past diversions. In fact, it's pretty close in its stylistic contrast to previous efforts like Odinist or the What Once Was...Liber I project that released last year, but I'll be damned if the band have not once more flexed their imagination upon a fully submersible experience. Within the first two tracks, I had become fully dissolved into its perplexed, abusive aural narrative...again! It almost pisses me off, except that in the end I'm the one that adversely benefits.
If you've listened through the back catalog, then you know to expect compelling arrangements of both dissonance and melody. This album is planned as the first in a trilogy, so like last year's work, its but an installment of conceptual, structured chaos in a grand pattern we cannot yet judge. The play list is divided into 7 pieces, with a length of about 45 minutes, but there seem to be two primary motifs coursing through it. The first is that of blasted, driving fare threaded with discordant, disheveled note choices that create a schizoid symmetry ("Epitomes I and III"), and the second is the slower, drudging fare belabored in stunning bends and melodies, backed by soft synthesizers ("Epitomes II, IV and VI"). Though the latter selections are the more resilient and engrossing, the faster material really puts them into perspective by spanning them out across the distance of the record. In addition, they incorporate traces of electric percussion and louder ambiance in various segues throughout (the close of "Epitome I" is a prime example), and the sum of these fluctuations births an uncanny, atmospheric hypnosis one can experience time and time again, tethered from solitude by Vindsval's mocking rasp.
Blut Aus Nord does not disappoint here, but in all the album does lack some of the standing fiber of their past works. The Frenchmen are not long on guitar riffs, they are simply means to an unwholesome end, a nightmare space between urban reality and metaphysical horror, but a few of the faster passages, like 2010's What Once Was...Liber I do seem to be an inkling dry. That said, I've been listening through this a good number of times now and the haunted thrills never dissipate. I'd liken this to a sort of antithesis of Deathspell Omega's Paracletus. Where that was a busy, almost overwhelming burst of ideas wrought through unhinged, explosive paced aggression, this is a more primordial alternative, lurking in the margins of complexity but only rarely stepping out into the bloodstream of intensity. 777 - Sect(s) is not the perfect engine of creation that I've always dreamed of from this band, but it's yet another stimulating excursion into an impeccable body of work.
When one of your favourite bands of all time hooks up with your favourite label, it’s time to start pinching yourself. Yet this is exactly what transpired last year when DMP and BAN joined forces, culminating provisionally in the intriguing vinyl-only ‘What Once Was … Liber I’ EP and followed now with the monstrous eighth full-length album, ‘777 – Sect(s)’.
Apparently, this is the opening shot in a trilogy of new Blut Aus Nord offerings. I must concede I’m not too bothered by such notions – concept, trilogy, sidestep, blah blah blah, who cares? All that matters is the music and it must be said that this one compares more than favourably with anything else from Vindsval’s impressive canon of work.
First off, the presentation is excellent – nothing less than we’ve come to expect from this French label. Secondly, the production on this release is spot-on, allowing every discordant note and chord to glide effortlessly through the speakers, resulting in an organic, live feel that so much of today’s Black Metal lacks. Not normally the kind of thing I comment on but, hell, kudos to the producer because ‘777 – Sect(s)’ sounds sublime.
The music itself is prime, unmistakable Blut Aus Nord. As soon as you hear it, you know straight away who it is. Nobody else sounds anything like this – how many BM acts can we genuinely say that about? As corrosive and chaotic as we’ve come to expect from these masters of urban malediction, ‘777 – Sect(s)’ is replete with the familiar sounds of alienation associated with BM’s most trailblazing entity.
But there’s a perfect balance at play. The non-aggressive parts are more pronounced than hitherto, resulting in a magical listen that offers harshness and disturbing, haunting eeriness in equal measure. All the songs are superb but a special mention for the ultra-majestic ‘Epitome 04’ – possibly the greatest Blut Aus Nord song yet. I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I had forgotten just how fantastic this band was. ‘777 – Sect(s)’ showcases an astonishing Black Metal act at the absolute zenith of its powers, churning out the type of unique, inimitable and downright incredible music that makes life worth living. Essential in every respect.
(Review originally appears on http://www.blackmetalreviews.com)
Blut Aus Nord have created quite a buzz over the years of pounding out horrific and apocalpytic black metal. They promised 777 some time ago. This is part one of a planned trilogy. Having just listened their rerelease of their 2001 full length Mythical Beast... (with newly recorded tracks added) I was stoked to see this come out.
777 seems to be a fair mixture of all prior works. From the opening seconds they're showcasing their earlier style of Darkthrone blasting black metal. This weaves it's way chaotically to the slower atmospheric and doomy stuff they did recently. All of it has bits of industrial sprinkled throughout.
At first I wasn't sure what to think. I enjoy their blasting parts, but I've enjoyed the slow evil material far more. The fast parts are very unnerving. It sounds like there's a constant whirring going on. Actually, the whole album is rather unsettling, in a good way mind you. It is a very cold album that certainly doesn't invoke a single thought of happiness. Rather it seems they want to suffocate the listener in depression.
Throughout my listening experience I couldn't get rid of the feeling that something was missing, that is wasn't up to scratch. Any time I thought this for too long they immediately made me think otherwise, such as halfway through Epitome II. This cycle happened throughout the album. It seemed to follow a pattern. Fast song mixed with slow atmospheric parts followed by a song doing the exact opposite. That repeats for over 45 minutes. Maybe a bit too long? Maybe not.