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I actually don't fucking understand this band. When I made the (ill-advised) decision to review every single one of their albums chronologically, I thought it was going to be really straightforward. No two Blut Aus Nord albums sound the same, and in addition very rarely does Vindsval release music that's just straight-up bad. I'm not gonna say he's never done such a thing, but at the very least, there's no shortage of things to talk about with any Blut Aus Nord album, which is why sorting out my thoughts on all their full-lengths seemed like a manageable task right off the bat. Of course, nothing's ever that goddamn easy. Somewhere in between Thematic Emanation and MoRT, I realized that while I did enjoy all the band's album's to some extent, I couldn't tell you exactly what makes the band so appealing. I can use adjectives like "creeping", "dissonant" and "tense" all day, but none of those really properly describe the music's character, especially because those adjectives are applicable to both the good and the bad albums of this band. You can say BAN's songs are diverse, original, carefully thought-out, whatever; they all give you some sort of clue as to what's going on here, but how the shit do I properly manage to communicate to you, the reader, what is worth listening to among this sea of albums? How the hell do I manage to explain why The Desanctification actually ended up being pretty enjoyable for me, despite not standing out in a discography that is literally filled with standout albums?
I guess it would probably help to stop rambling about my own problems and discuss the music, eh?
The Desanctification has the qualities I expected to hear in Work Which Transforms God based on people's descriptions of that album. Work was a black metal album written with a stark, mechanized feel, whereas The Desanctification is a much more apparent and evenly blended fusion of the band's black metal and industrial sides. This sounds a lot more ostensibly "industrial" than that album while still retaining the same approximate level of melody Work had. This has the same creeping ambiance that was present on MoRT at times, and I didn't really like that album all that much, but here there's a lot more playing around with melody and inserting it into the crawling atmosphere and that enhances it in a lot of ways. After several albums worth of toying around with weird slow shit, it seems like Vindsval may have finally found a balance of elements that doesn't actively grind my gears and go nowhere.
Where does this stand in comparison to the other albums in the 777 series, then? Well, it essentially seems like the gateway from one to the other. Sect(s) was extremely harsh and claustrophobic, Cosmosophy was much more ethereal and out-there. This maintains the tense nature that was established in the first installment of the trilogy, but through a gradual permeation of consonance as the album goes on The Desanctification doesn't sound as immediately inaccessible. I'm not gonna say these riffs are earworms that get stuck in your head for days or anything, but at the very least the guitar parts stand out a little more and offer a few different shades of melody (unlike the predecessor which was one, maybe two-dimensional at best). Strangely enough, the increasing amount of variety in The Desanctification actually gives the band a more stable and consistent atmosphere. The interplay of different influences finally created a sound that actually kind of stands out...some of the time, anyways. There's certainly a lot of tense atmosphere-building, and there aren't too many things setting this apart aesthetically from Sect(s), but at the very least the mood changes are put at the right times in the song. "Epitome VIII" is a highlight in the series because it showcases the diversity of Blut Aus Nord effectively without losing the trademark careful composition. It starts out like your run-of-the-mill dissonant riffing, and then somehow slowly shifts into a much gentler (yet still eerie) melody midway through the song, weaving in a wonderful build-and-release. It sounds creepy yet pleasant in that way that Vindsval is known to do, and holds its own among any of his best albums. Even the ambient track afterward, while having a slightly corny Egyptian-sounding melody, still does well in holding the mood in between songs. If the rest of The Desanctification was at the same level as those two tracks, this album would be among his best.
Unfortunately, this album as a whole isn't quite up to that quality, mostly sinking into churning repetitions of only mildly interesting riffs in a variety of styles for the rest of its duration. It manages to be marginally more digestible than Sect(s) was, at the very least, but doesn't quite have that infectious nature that the second track on this album does. If "Epitome VIII" didn't exist, this would probably be just as mediocre as Sect(s), but the more gripping and varied songwriting present on this album actually makes even the more boring moments on the album seem appealing, because at least you know he'll go somewhere else with the music at some point. That being said, however, there's still way too much effort put into introducing the music and this album still drags in a lot of places for that reason.
Essentially, this album (and the 777 series as a whole, I suppose) just feels too rushed. Three full-length albums in the span of just over a year is a daunting task, even for a musician of Vindsval's stature. The slow, building introductions and near absence of crushing climaxes makes it feels like this series is unnecessarily padded out. There's so much focus on the winding, looping tower of riffs that nothing ends up standing out. I'm starting to feel like if he were to have just sat on the finished product for a couple of months, picked out the best tracks from the three albums and compiled them onto one full-length release it would be a really good album, but instead we have one album's worth of good ideas spread out over three releases. The good riffs are there, sure, but they're padded with pointless atmosphere-building. Even though all these albums sound different aesthetically and I enjoy them to varying degrees, they all seem to be cursed with the same songwriting faults that have plagued the band since Work Which Transforms God. It seems strange that a band who basically changes their style up with every new album can consistently make the same mistakes over and over again, but that's just one of the many reasons Blut Aus Nord is an enigma in black metal.
I still don't fucking understand this band.
I'll admit it. I'm a wimp - I like Blut Aus Nord for their more atmospheric and experimental side. For instance, "Memoria Vetutsa II: Dialouge with the Stars" is BY FAR my favorite BAN album, because I think the atmospheric parts mixed in are absolute genius. In fact, I was only a casual fan until I got that album, and upon becoming obsessed with it, I had to own every other album. Of course, I still love the heavy parts of it; I just think they are infinitely enhanced by the surrounding (and integrated) atmospheric parts.
On "Sect(s)," some of the super heavy parts that are absolutely flooded with percussion get a little boring to me. While that has been the band's style for a long time, that might mean it's getting stale. My favorite songs on that album are Epitome 02 and 06 - very melodious, but in such a sinister, ominous and intimidatingly powerful way. "The Desanctification" is almost an entire album of songs like that. It just seems like the songs have more variety, are more interesting, more melodic, and contain less vocals and percussion-barrages than most BAN albums but still contain the same amount of brilliance, if not more. This isn't another "Memoria Vetutsa II: Dialouge with the Stars," which is fine. I don't think there's enough room in this world for another one. It's definitely not as soft or atmospheric as parts of that album, but I think this is one of their most refreshing and successfully experimental albums.
The complexity of these masterpieces is as chaotic, yet harmonic as ever, fusing different rhythms and melodies together in a way that challenges, yet intrigues the listener, leaving them hungering for more. I've always thought BAN has had an inexplicable way of making discordant, yet congruent melodies in their music. Any fan knows that BAN really concentrates on the overall mood of each song, and they aren't just banging on their instruments like some bands out there. Their riffs, as always, are flawlessly constructed - sounding unsettling, disturbing, and downright evil.
Some songs have a fairly long buildup to a turning point if you will, which completely changes the song's direction, such as at 5:30 in Epitome VII, and to a lesser extent, 3:18 in Epitome VIII. I've always liked this idea in atmospheric music like this, as it provides a sense of progression and something to anticipate.
"Epitome X" may be my favorite song, adding a bit more melody than on the first two tracks, with a relatively straightforward, however good rhythm at the beginning and creepier than usual vocals.
Sure, there are some weirder tracks on this album as well. "Epitome IX" is just some sort of eerie, ambient piece - I'd consider it kind of a breather between the behemoths before and after it. Both Epitome XI and XII have more of an electronic, almost hip-hop feel to them, XII even has some ghostly vocals, while still retaining the metal edge and menacing dark feel. It may look strange on paper, but they know how to make it work.
Not every fan may agree with me on this review, but if you find yourself liking the same stuff I do in your BAN albums, look no further. Give me more!
Blut aus Nord's dark 777 trilogy continues with The Desanctification, and I definitely am not as impressed with it as I was with Sect(s). Though the freaky, nightmarish atmosphere is brought over from the other album, the schizophrenic quality is not and this album is a good bit weaker because of it. It's still a good album, but it's close to the ass end of the BaN quality spectrum which, though not meaning good news for The Desanctification in its own right, is still a statement that even Blut aus Nord's worst album are still really solid.
When I say schizophrenic, I'm referring to Sect(s) fast tempo chaotic songs that really drive in the feeling of a nose dive into utter insanity. There is none of that here on The Desanctification. All the songs are rather slow in fact. "Epitome VIII" is the fastest one here and it still doesn't tread anywhere near "Epitome I", "III", or "V" on the pacing department. But slowness by itself isn't a damning quality especially when I do like the slower MoRT album more than the faster Mystical Beast of Rebellion. One interesting observation for The Desanctification is how the drums in all of the songs are Blut aus Nord's most forward on their musical quest to become a trip-hop band, something they seem to have been working on as far back as The Work Which Transforms God. There's zero details on this W.D. Feld guy (including if he really exists at all) who allegedly handles the drums in the band, but whoever worked the drums must have used a drum machine because these drums sound incredibly inorganic. They've also got this trip-hop beat going on in most of the songs that sounds rather awkward at times, particularly the opening few minutes of "Epitome VII".
What's good about this album then? A good amount of things actually. The majestic sound of the guitars are still in here and there are some pretty epic sounding leads, particularly in "Epitome VIII". The keyboards sound really nice as well. And these two instruments together add a thick, dark atmosphere with an interesting pinch of light to the songs. Once again, the vocals are nothing but another layer of sound in the music with no lyrics provided; but the various assortment of murmurs, growling, screeching, and clean choir passages have worked well with Blut aus Nord in the past and work well now. "Epitome IX" is rather worthless though as an uninteresting interlude. "Epitome XII" isn't that cool either with the lack of vocals actually stripping it of its musical and atmospheric substance.
Either way, The Desanctification is a pretty solid album, but it didn't meet the expectations I had for it following my enjoyment for Sect(s). Hopefully, Vindsval and co. (or his imaginary friends, nobody knows) can pull together a little tighter for Cosmosophy and end this 777 trilogy on a higher note than this album.
Some musical genres are very demanding for listeners and music created by Vindsval, leader and sole songwriter of Blut Aus Nord, belongs to this category. Since 1994, this band is offering a particularly tight and confusing French ambient black metal. Universally celebrated release, The Work Which Transforms God (2003) remains the band’s reference album, a logical culmination of over eight years of research and artistic experiments. However, its successor - MORT (2006) - has led to confusion among fans because of its unstructured and noisy approach. And it is certainly not Odinist (2007), linear and obscure, that reassured anyone. The announcement of a new trilogy set in 2011-2012 was welcomed with great skepticism. Did Blut Aus Nord lose the special touch that makes its music difficult to access, but rich in sounds and textures?
Published earlier this year, 777-Sect (s) (2011) seemed to revive the band’s golden years, but I never fully listened to it. Instead, I choose to explore in depth its successor, 777 - The Desanctification (2011), released last spring. First observation: song writing is stripped, reduced to a few sounds that seem to run in a loop around a central rhythm. Industrial music influence is clear: it is felt from the opening track, Epitome VII, in which passages come from a keyboard to create ethereal atmospheres that coat the electronic drums and some guitar notes. Epitome VIII is closer to the band’s previous albums spirit, with this peculiar melancholic voice, staccato rhythms and complex harmonies mixture. A little interlude with "reverb" effect, Epitome IX surprises me and creates a floating sensation, while Epitome X is a more accessible and well built song. The last three instrumental songs are those where the industrial music influence is the most blatant, particularly clear in the epilogue.
Without going into a dithyramb, this Blut Aus Nord album is solid, perfectly in tune with the band usual style. It continues to push the boundaries of its musical exploration, this time by reducing its sonic palette, while incorporating elements that are coming from other music styles. You have to listen to it in the same state of mind you might have during contemporary art gallery visit. 7/10
Originally written for metalobscur.com
Following on from last year's "777 Sect(s)", "777 - The Desanctification" is part two of Blut Aus Nord's continuing descent into the dank underground of industrial and ambient-scoped black metal, a record with follows on from "The Sect(s)" in both stylistic and naming conventions. We start off here with "Epitome VII", leading directly off from last time and the immediate conclusion is of little stylistic change, this being a pt. II after all. The 7 tracks on offer merge together as one bleak whole, based on the mechanised drum beats and layers of atmospheric guitars which play off each other often at a stark and contrasting angles, the discordancy being very much desired to leave as unsettling a feel can usually be trusted to be found in music freed from the shackles of a standard, rigid time-structure. When vocalist Vindsval croaks and groans away in the dark background and the electronic backing emits it's repetitive and spacious sounds the soundscape becomes enormous.
After spacey interlude "IX", "X" takes some time to get going before presenting a defined, emerging lead melody through which the song is based round. It feels cold and cavernous but the feel is more human that was come before as the drumming begins to take on a more human feel against the starkness of what has come before. "XI" is another eerie, darkly bleak song barely clinging on to the edges of black metal as the pervading dark ambience is created through a strong mechanised drum rhythm with a watered down guitar sound wailing away on top. By the time "XII" comes round the loom of the preceeding 30 minutes has begun to set out, so as it's 6 minutes crawl by with plaintive vocal melodies merging with the swaying atmospheric soundscapes and a highly annoying high pitched tinging sound at the forefront, it is hard to avoid feelings of over-saturation of BAN's incredibly despondent sound. "XIII" closes out in stronger fashion with a higher degree of energy, at least until its closing minute when the guitars drone out from your speakers akin to a swarm of locusts attacking your ear drums.
The production on "777 - The Desanctification" is perfect for what is required with the echos of leading guitar melodies ringing far into the distance and Vindsval's vocals suitably bleak and obscure, but too much is allowed to drag on without suitable musical discourse or direction, forcing me to mark this latest effort lower than it's predecessor. This is an album more darkened and bleak than most funeral doom I've heard, but the challenges of producing something so onerous yet entirely listenable are extremely high. Blut Aus Nord have hit them in the past, this time they fall a little short.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
If there was a reward for being the most consistently inconsistent band in the metal kingdom, it would certainly go to Blut Aus Nord. Beyond the fact that they waver between lush symphonic black metal and harsh industrial black metal, their albums seriously vary in quality. That is exemplified by their following up The Work Which Transforms God, which is widely considered one of the best black metal albums of the past decade with MoRT, which is generally recognized as a complete and utter miscarriage of industrial experimentation. The rest of their discography is equally scattered between the stellar, the adequate and the forgettable.
Blut Aus Nord kicked off 2011 by releasing the riveting 777: Sect(s), the first part of a planned trilogy. Coarse, dissonant, yet catchy, 777: Sect(s) was their best recording in eight years. Thus, expectations were high for part two, 777: The Desanctification. Unfortunately, those expectations have not been met. While far from mediocre, The Desanctification sounds more like a collection dance-friendly B-sides then a worthy follow up to Sect(s).
The Desanctification definitely brings some new dimensions to the Blut Aus Nord sound. While parts of the album rely on the proven formula of sharp industrial black metal, there is a much stronger emphasis on groove and rhythm. Most of these beats can best be described as trip-hop. Surprisingly, the hypnotic beats work well with Blut Aus Nord’s mystical vibe. The melodies are enigmatic and full Middle Eastern flair.
If you doubt that these elements can smoothly integrate into a black metal recording, the opener “Epitome VII” will change your mind. A sinister, Arabic melody slithers back and forth over twisting beats that morph from groovy rhythms to disjointed polyrhythmic patterns. A few epic leads and a passage of convoluted, dissonant nastiness make “Epitome VII” the album's standout track. “Epitome XII” is also a winner. A slow, gothic melody swings back and forth over a catchy concoction of drum beats and chimes while Vindsval hums and chants eerie tunes in the background. “Epitome XII” is not really metal; this is music for the darkwave dance floor. That said, “Epitome XII” is excellent for what it is. That eerie melody will contort in your head all day.
Unfortunately, a lot of the other tracks feel underdeveloped. “Epitome XI” is sort of a poor man’s version of “Epitome XII.” It’s made for the dancefloor, but with pale melodies and rhythms, it won’t exactly get you moving. “Epitome VIII” brings in some of the epic atmospheric elements from Memoria Vetusta II, but is fairly pedestrian in comparison to their other songs in this style.
One can't help but wonder if this album was rushed. Considering that only seven months separate the release of the first and second part of this series, it seems plausible that simply not enough time was spent making this album as a good as possible. No doubt, The Desanctification has a sound that is different from all the other Blut Aus Nord albums, and more importantly, this is a style that can reap great rewards, as “Epitome VII” and “Epitome XII” demonstrate. However, much of The Desanctification lacks an attention to detail, consequently leaving the listener underwhelmed. While there are enough interesting sounds on The Desanctification that fans of the band should give it a chance, it also a reminder that sequels are almost never as good the originals.
(Originally written for deafsparrow.com)
Back in April of this year, I was wowed by the first in a prospective trilogy of releases by the French dark metal act Blut Aus Nord. '777 - Sect(s)' sought the beginning of a three-album project, each bound together as part of one nightmarish journey. To hear that the band was planning on releasing the entire set of albums within the course of a year was exciting, to say the least. Blut Aus Nord has been prone to releasing their unique blend of avant-garde black metal quite quickly, but what has made them exceptional is that they do this at no sacrifice to the quality and depth of the music. Over the course of many listens, I felt my appreciation for '777 - Sect(s)' expand, and I feel the same is true for the second album in this saga.
'777 - The Desanctification' quite literally picks up where 'Sect(s)' left off. As the songs in the first were labelled 'Epitome' I-VI, this follows suit with 'Epitome' VII-XIII. Stylistically and conceptually, 'Desanctification' gives every impression that it is a continuation of the previous album, not a sequel so much as a direct follow-up to what was released months before. Stylistically, this is very close to what 'Sect(s)' offered as well. The music is a constant balancing act between dissonant, jarring black metal, and lighter, deeply atmospheric passages. Blut Aus Nord has claimed that this album takes the listener 'deeper into the nightmare realm', and to a certain extent, this is true. Although the music isn't all too different, there is a somewhat looser approach to the performance and composition this time around, lending itself more to disturbing atmosphere than the head-scratching black metal that dominated parts of the first album. It seems atmosphere is winning the balancing act, if only a bit. Truth be told, Blut Aus Nord's sound still runs around the map.
While I wouldn't call Blut Aus Nord the most coherent songwriters in the world, they have a real knack for creating incredible moments in their music, and even better transitions to tie them together. Not every idea in 'The Desanctification' works perfectly- sometimes, a part may drag on a few measures too long, or the band will let a section become too chaotic- but they know how to take this palette of ideas and arrange them in such a way that makes everything sound meaningful to an extent. A perfect example of this is the second track 'Epitome VIII', in which the first three minutes meander through an incredibly harsh and dissonant soundscape. It is certainly a challenge for the ears, but would have passed me as being aimless if it weren't for the majestic melodic climax a little after the three minute mark; everything peaks up in unison and intensifies the surreal vibe I get throughout the album.
Performance-wise, there are few bands that use texture and tone so well in the metal world. Guitarist Vindsval has an amazing grasp of some gorgeously dreary guitar tones, and the electronic/industrial aspect of the band never feels weak or gimmicky; it is all mixed together into one darkly ethereal blend. As one might ascertain from a description of the band, the production style is equally as chaotic, throwing multiple layers of ambiance at the listener under the main action. One aspect of the sound that does not always work however are the vocals. They are- for the most part- fairly generic by black metal standards, but the way they echo incessantly makes them more of an ambient garble, neither complimenting nor necessarily hurting the music.
Blut Aus Nord have always been a band that plays on their own terms, and the '777' trilogy has made me more excited about them than ever before. Regarding whether 'The Desanctification' is better than 'Sect(s)' or not: I'm not quite sure. Perhaps 'Sect(s) had a better feeling of organization to it, but 'The Desanctification' has left more of an impression on me. This is atmosphere made deadly. Even sparing the context of the trilogy, 'The Desanctification' is a devastating album, and one of the more disturbing records I've heard in a long time.
The Desanctification comes fairly hot on the heels of the last Blut Aus Nord experiment, Sect(s) this past April, but I almost wish that the two had been joined as a single, double-LP, since their central tropes are so similar in content. Then again, this is only the second of THREE recordings in this 777 series, so even that prospect would not paint the entire picture. Nonetheless, the French pick up directly where they left off. Like its conceptual predecessor, the songs are not given titles, instead dubbed as 'Epitomes' with affixed Roman numerals that the canny listener might learn to somehow separate them. It makes sense from the perspective that the band desires the audience to lose itself in the whole album rather than focused on particular tracks, but I can't help but feel that it also leeches a bit of character from some of the better individual pieces.
I say this because I was not entirely thrilled by the first few songs on the album. It's the similar sort of drone-heavy content the band presented in the spring, with mechanized, often industrial aesthetics to the drumming (hell, "Epitome VII" even has a hip hop undercurrent to the beat). Jangling, eerie guitars are looped in cycles of haunting regret while the vocals shift between poles of faint, melodic, layered groans and the occasional bitter bite of their black metal background. Most of the pieces contain one central 'hook' that they build towards (like the arching melody around 5:30 into "Epitome VII"), yet these don't always feel as if they were worth the wait. For example, "Epitome VIII" incorporates some grimier vocals redolent of their past works, but the bounce of the guitars and the background ambiance feels a little dry, and the big melody coming in at the bridge just doesn't feel like enough of a payoff.
Deeper into the track list, however, I felt that the stronger material at long last arrived in the fourth track "Epitome X". Cleaner, layered vocals create a psychedelic somnolence that erupts into these beautiful, glazed guitars which feel like a field of flowers suddenly blooming on a cold, barren steppe. "Epitome XI" is another of the strongest pieces, with a steady electronic ethno ambient pulse beat beneath the droning, life-sapping guitars and a sense of immediate, blinding desperation to the gradual curves of the distant, melodic guitar slogging along the top. The closer "Epitome XIII" also has a nice texture to it, with a doom-like, crashing gait and a dissonant hint of disjointedness that mirrors the mood of the album preceding it, sort of as if it were tying off a knot.
Ultimately, this wasn't quite so strong or compelling as its thematic precursor Sect(s). I don't think it's a huge stretch to claim that Blut Aus Nord seem to be drifting further and further away from their metallic roots. Sure, there are distorted guitars and occasional lapses into the primal aggression which once inspired them, but this is more of an ambient, mood piece with a ton of guitars to replace what might otherwise be a bank of synthesizers. Fans of those drone and sludge artists not afraid to incorporate warmer melodic textures into their composition will find a lot to devour here, but I did not spend much of the 43 minute playtime in the same rapture I felt through past Blut Aus Nord recordings. The Desanctification is fully consistent in tone with Sect(s), but I'm hoping that the final chapter in the trilogy will prove more revelatory than its midsection.