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Well, after the band’s 4th album caused a hell of ruckus, Blut Aus Nord decided they----well, he, depending on how you look at it---- probably should release a little something to keep the (rapidly increasing number of) fans happy whilst they---which is what I’ll refer Blut Aus Nord to as for the remainder of this analysis---worked on the follow-up full length. So, they planned on doing a split with The Axis of Perdition, but somewhere along the way they opted not to, causing the afore-mentioned industrial black metal band to release that EP, Physical Illucinations In The Sewer of Xuchilbara (The Red God), by themselves. In its absence from the Blut Aus Nord discography, the crazy French black metallers decided to put this split with Reverence, a relatively no-name black metal band also hailing from France. The first three tracks are by Blut Aus Nord; the last two, Reverence.
As far as Blut Aus Nord’s songs go, I hope you weren’t wishing for something unexpected, for although each of the band’s prior releases saw them completely change direction (for those of you who aren’t familiar, their first album was a Burzum-esque affair in the style of Det Som En Gang Var; their second, Viking metal; their third, Transilvanian Hunger worship, and then their 4th ……..um…..), it appears that the success of The Work Which Transforms God has persuaded them to further explore the eerie soundscapes, weird dissonance techniques, and bizarre progressions and chord structures that album is fast becoming legendary for. However, I think that most of their fans----not to mention most of the black metal world----don’t think this a mistake. There have been plenty of Burzum posers, Darkthrone-worshippers, and uninteresting Viking metal bands in the last few years, and quite frankly, I don’t think we need to hear many more.
Anyway, on to the actual songs. They aren’t terribly different from the ones on the last album. They’re mostly fast-paced, with one or two breakdowns and a few ambient intros/outros. Nothing new from Vindsval in the vocal department, he’s still doing the typical black metal raspy scream, although the last song features some clean backing vocals that he hasn’t displayed since Fathers of the Icy Age, and just as they did then, they fit the music perfectly and enhance it immeasurably. He’s doing just as good a job with the guitars as he did on the last album, discordant progressions and all. That being said, there are a few moments on these songs that have a SLIGHTLY more melodic feel to them. In the percussion department they’re still using a drum machine as far as I can tell, and still making excellent use of it. The bass, as expected, is inaudible (am I the only one who thinks some of these black metal bands give credit to someone for a non-existent bass line just for the purpose of making them look like a more “legit” band?….).
However, there are a few differences. For one, the feel of the songs is less like the creepy atmosphere of The Work Which Transforms God and more like the otherworldly-ness of the preceding album, The Mystical Beast of Rebellion, especially on tracks two and three. In addition, the tempo changes---or lack thereof---are more reminiscent of the latter album rather than the former. The guitar tone is also more similar to the tone on that album. However, the “cavernous” production of The Work Which Transforms God is still there, as are the extremely fucked-up note progressions. In addition, the band still makes excellent use of artificial noises, effects-laden voices, and other creepy noises as a backdrop for all the music. In short: the Blut Aus Nord songs on this split sound like the guitar tone and atmosphere of their third album mixed with the cavernous production, freakish progressions and backround noise of their fourth album.
The Reverence songs….well, I’ll admit I have considerably less to say about them (which may not be a bad thing….). For one, there are only two of them, the last of which is nothing more than a minute and a half of ambience. For another….well, I’m not familiar with the band. As in, the “I’ve never heard these guys before”-type of unfamiliarity. So, forgive me if my opinions of this band seem ill informed, ‘cause they are. The one black metal song they put on this recording is decent enough---they certainly have the spirit of black metal down pat. It’s pretty melodic, but without falling into Gothenburg territory. There’s not much blasting, if any at all, so it shouldn’t be too off-putting. I’d say it sounds a little like Averse Sefira’s Homecoming’s March, except slower and without the slight death metal influence that album displayed. It isn’t very original, that’s for sure, and I wouldn’t say it really stands out in my mind as being all that great, but it is at least passable for black metal.
The ambient track…well, it is not much. Certainly not worth multiple paragraphs of typed words floating around in cyberspace (much to your relief, I’m sure). I’ll spare you the time and just say it wouldn’t have negatively affected the release if it was omitted---it’s filler.
A brief synopsis: the final two tracks are somewhat out of place here, kind of a letdown after the first three excellent tracks from Blut Aus Nord; and even those tracks leave a lot to be desired. You know, say, that fifth full length where the whole album is supposed to be this good.
This isn’t worth a purchase unless you’re one of those insane fans that has to have the maggot-infested first demo that has been in a landfill for a decade. A download, maybe, but I won’t be forking over $15 for this anytime soon. Hopefully my favorite black metal band of the moment will re-release these songs on a best-of or something……..