without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Black metal tends to be a real mixed bag for me. Most of it seems pretty mediocre by following the same old formula that was perfected by the grim forefathers like Mayhem and Darkthrone. A hell of a lot of it rips off the less enjoyable (to me) commercial versions such as Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, and that really sucks. But then there's a little elite of the genre that manages to come across grim, yet musically enjoyable and competent. Emperor and Immortal come to mind. Blut Aus Nord is certainly one of those bands.
On later releases, BAN would really carve their own niche with a very distinct sound, but on here they're building on essentially an Immortal/Burzum inspired sound, with a couple hints of Viking-era Bathory lurking. It's really much the same formula as their excellent (though inferior) debut, Ultima Thule. Dense layers of tremolo picking and desolate melodies. There is less use of clean vocals, guitars and keyboards than on the debut, but they're better placed and used to great effect. The emphasis here is on excellent guitar work. The riffing itself is memorable, and there are even a few simple and choice guitar solos. There is also a reasonable amount of bottom end on here that was missing on the debut. The bass is also audible, quite rare for most black metal. It sounds finger picked as well, rather than a distorted "third guitar," which could put some people off. That and the drum machine...hell, even the drum machine is well composed!
There is no best song on here. Each song is expertly composed and has the elements that make this a great album. At the current moment, I really enjoy "The Territory of Witches-Guardians of the Dark Lake," with the excellent build up and recurring melodic theme. "Sons of Wisdom, Master of Elements" is very aggressive with some nearly thrash riffs coming in at times.
I really can't recommend this enough...Blut Aus Nord is black metal at it's finest.