without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Variety in music is overrated. Yes, there is something to be said for eclecticism, which Vindsval has clearly shown throughout his career-starting out as a fairly traditional black metal artist who suddenly, on his third LP, decided to derail much of his original sound, and that of black metal as a whole-but when creating quality LPs, consistency and coherency of theme and sound are vastly superior methods of attack. Think of all the albums you've heard that may have presented quality material, yet on a macro level lacked the cohesion necessary for it not to sound like hodgepodge (Radiohead's Hail to the Thief and Mastodon's Blood Mountain come to mind). Like Blut aus Nord's aforementioned third LP (The Mystical Beast of Rebellion), MoRT, or Metamorphosis of Realistic Theories, is an album that relies on repetition, or more precisely, variations on a theme.
Sonically, MoRT is less overtly abrasive than much of BAN's catalog. The compositions are less tangible here, and rely significantly more on ambiance. Typically, listeners will be treated (punished?) by a barrage of dissonant, opaque guitar textures, irregular beats, atonal riffs, and seemingly amorphous song structures before being sucked back into the void, where they await the next onslaught. These voids in musical space work as segues between each of the albums 'Chapters,' which, despite what some may cry, approach the style of the album in noticeably different shades of black, and create a sort of interrupted gradient. No, not all of these 'songs' sound the same. Chapter I's vague progressive rock structure and choral crescendo is emotionally and texturally opposed to the noodling, and rhythmically twisted dance number that is Chapter VII. After repeated close listens, the structures inherent in these seemingly unwieldy monstrosities become apparent, revealing a strange sort of logic to each composition. Not only do the compositions evolve over the course of the album, they seem to evolve over many listens, revealing themselves with each plunge the listeners takes, provided of course that one is willing to take the ride. The lack of immediacy is unfortunately heightened by the aforementioned segues, which, while fitting to the album's atmosphere, can be derivative to the point that one may feel inclined to skip ahead.
Like most conceptual albums, MoRT should be taken as a whole rather than a mere collection of songs. Like chapters in a book, each 'Chapter' here builds upon the last, while also adding nuances and textures that distinguish them structurally. Like other extreme and abstract works, this can be a daunting listen, and the challenge may be too exhausting for more impatient listeners. Vindsval himself has said that recording this album was exhaustive, and thus paved the way for the comparably more accessible, riff-driven Odinist. Like Gorgut's Obscura or Demilich's Nespithe, MoRT is not an easy album to love for the more conservative metalhead, and some may find it even unlistenable. While not an easy album to recommend to virgins of Blut aus Nord's discography, MoRT demonstrates Vindsval's mastery of texture and atmosphere. It is among the most challenging, yet rewarding of BAN's records. Recommended for adventurous listeners.
(originally written by me for Sputnikmusic.com)
Thematic Emanation was an interesting experiment, but its value only lay in the fact that it was an experiment. The well of ideas in black metal-tinged dark ambiance is quite shallow, and even an EP's length worth of that sort of stuff tends to cause my interest to wane by the end of it. While the vibe can be somewhat eerie and mysterious because you don't know what's coming next, there's a finite amount of time that sort of effect lasts and after that MoRT just ends up sounding liked a bunch of "moaning computerized whales" (as my girlfriend so aptly just put it). No one riff can necessarily be scrutinized for sounding "bad", but that's kind of because their intent is to sound unpleasant. The connection to old Thorns-y black metal is obvious when individual section of the songs are abstracted and analyzed, but together it just kind of forms a linear stream of groaning. You're just made to endure the strange, warped black metal riffing while the synth effects give rise to some sort of abandoned prison: howling, slamming gates, and the occasional clatter or clang of some unknown object crashing to the ground, smashed by a disturbed poltergeist. While previous Blut Aus Nord albums always offered at least a little wisp of beauty underneath the grimy exterior, on MoRT, the distant clean-vocal-esque thing midway through "Chapter V" is one of the very rare moments where something actually sounds warm and inviting for a minute. There's even a couple other times on the album where the clean vocal-esque sort of thing appears, but in those cases it still sounds as tense as the rest of the music. There's literally one moment on this album that sounds pleasant, and because Vindsval has no regard for your sanity he put it right in the middle of the goddamn album.
If you come into black metal looking for a fucked-up atmosphere, MoRT definitely has enough going on to draw your interest in--this could almost be considered an album consisting of nothing but pure atmosphere. The oddly stretched-out and barely-coherent sense of melody present in the guitar makes the riffs in the foreground sound more like the demented counterpoint to a more grounded, easily digestible riff as opposed to being something that can stand on its own as the focal point of the music. If twisted atmosphere isn't your main thing, I'll admit this is gonna be something you're gonna have to hear more than a couple times in order to really decide whether or not you like it. Even though none of the individual elements of this album are nothing particularly new to black metal, they've been given the spotlight in a way that even someone who has a familiarity with black metal might not be expecting. In essence, the segments of black metal that would usually serve as the intro or outro pieces for more conventional bands have now been presented as the meat and potatoes of each song. It definitely has the potential to be a pretty unique angle, but the problem with MoRT is that Vindsval seems to be paying way too much attention to creating an atmosphere that subtly shifts forward. As a result, he completely forgot to write any sudden punches in the music that snap your attention back in and demand you be sucked into the atmosphere. This is all tension and no release.
That doesn't mean that all albums that just slowly build tension to blueball you are bad, though. Justin Broadrick is fantastic at creating an atmosphere without really giving you any tasty sweets to ease the pain, but MoRT creates a feeling so dense and uninviting that it become a chore to try and pay attention to a full song. While I was suspicious of the supposed "industrial" qualities of the music when I heard them on Work Which Transforms God, on MoRT they seem much more immediately evident and it has to do a lot with the percussion and pacing on this album. The drums have been programmed less with "black metal drumming" in mind and bear more similarity to Summoning's wandering, atypical rhythms. Not once can a blastbeat be heard anywhere on this album--it very rarely even reaches a midpaced tempo. Even though keepin' it slow was obviously necessary to get that minimal, creeping feel, it greatly contributes to the album's lack of dynamics. While everything sounds perfectly in place, that still doesn't detract from the fact that it's all boring and sounds the same.
I keep listening to this over and over again expecting some sort of delicate, nuanced masterpiece to emerge out of the hollow framework, but it just doesn't happen. Vindsval tends to have a habit of making his music really abstruse, but every single release he put out prior to MoRT gave you at least something to enjoy despite how difficult it is to sit through the entire album. This gives you no reward, no beauty emerges out of its treacherous toil, it's just absurdly dissonant bm riffs that wind into one another with the only thing tying them together being their similarity in aesthetic. Maybe MoRT is like that on purpose to convey some sort of bleak nihilism through music, who knows. The only thing I know is that he's conveyed that same sort of feeling through music that sounded a lot less shitty than this. MoRT is a one-trick pony that doesn't even have a very novel or interesting trick.
(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
If I ever wanted to listen to dissonant, nightmarish black metal, I'd turn to Blut aus Nord first. From The Mystical Beast of Rebellion onward, it's what they've been pretty much known for. However, among all those albums, MoRT has stood out as the most dark and disturbing to listen to. That hasn't made it actually better than the others though.
The first noticeable uniqueness in this album is how much slower it is compared to Blut aus Nord's previous material. Even The Work Which Transforms God whose most well known pieces are the slower ones (particularly "Procession of Dead Clowns") doesn't match up with MoRT. I suppose a good amount of that has to do with MoRT's darker atmosphere. While The Work... had faster songs that were really dissonant sounding, the slower ones had a more melancholic tinge. Every track on MoRT is basically one bad trip or mental rape after another. This is music you listen to when your soul gets abducted and gets transported across some dark, ethereal void. The dissonant guitar work helps bring this about, but surprisingly so do the vocals. Vindisval uses a mixture of unintelligible screeches, growls, whispers, chants, and more to further conjure this frightening experience. The production is noticeably dryer as well, so the foggier sound will make you get even more lost in this black haze.
MoRT does have problems though, and the most notable problems were also present on The Mystical Beast of Rebellion; but at the same time, these flaws were worked on to make them a little more bearable. The first problem is having the approximately 30 seconds of non-music between the songs. The good news though is that Blut aus Nord made these sections a lot more interesting. While all the sections between the songs on ...Mystical Beast... were all quiet wind sounds, MoRT instead uses creepy dissonant sounds that go right along with the music. My favorite of these is the transition between "Chapter VII" and "Chapter VIII", which has some really low and distorted growls as if Lucifer is speaking to the listener; quite fitting considering it's going into the final track of the album and the listener meets the master of this dark void. The other notable problem is the naming of the songs simply as "Chapter I", "Chapter II", etc.; and like ...Mystical Beast..., MoRT isn't Blut aus Nord's most memorable output, but it's still very intriguing to listen to from beginning to end and there's more individual songs that I find myself going back to.
Though it falls on the weaker side of Blut aus Nord's spectrum of albums, MoRT isn't bad in any sense. If you're looking for something really dark and disturbing to listen to, then this is a great album to check out, because if there's one thing this album does better than Blut aus Nord's other works, it's that it creates a darker atmosphere than any of the others and it works out pretty well.
This is literally the only Blut Aus Nord album I've ever heard. I might have stumbled into two or three other random tracks by the band, but to be honest, I've never sought out anything by them and only own "MoRT" because it ended up being in a big pile of CDs I got in a cheap lot on Ebay. Frankly, the band doesn't interest me at all; there's nothing that typically annoys me more than an "experimental" band which receives almost universal acclaim. I can't help but think supposedly seminal albums like "The Work Which Transforms God" can't be a hundredth as weird as people claim if it receives such seemingly unanimous support. Shouldn't the truly experimental be more polarizing? "Weird" things that everyone loves tend to adhere to an underlying structure of convention and palatability that ultimately poisons whatever superficially odd aesthetic they might adopt- it's the ultimate core of hipsterdom and one of the central elements of bad art.
I like "MoRT" a pretty good deal, though. It doesn't make me interested in checking out anything else by Blut Aus Nord, because I'm pretty sure the album's position in the band's discography as the one that pisses people off the most is closely related to my enjoyment of it, which is strange because I don't find it that weird or inaccessible. I can't help but think all the people ranting about how bizarre and unfriendly it is have very little exposure to "weird" music in general- the album has a pretty straightforward aesthetic and musical style, so I'm not sure what's supposed to make it so offputting. What, is black metal immediately impossible to comprehend if it doesn't sound like Dark Funeral? Let's not be silly. "MoRT" doesn't seem particularly experimental to me, especially because what the band does on it is so confident, polished, and professionally delivered. While it's musically outside of the absolute norm for the black metal scene, it hardly breaches unexplored territory. This isn't some black metal "Obscura" so much as a pleasant jaunt through a lesser-tread part of the genre. Even though I don't find "MoRT" particularly weird, I don't want my appreciation of it to seem purely contrarian in nature- I just get the impression that whatever the band is doing here is, given the album's odd position in their discography, a few steps away from their established average.
The untitled songs and simple aesthetic probably help too. Everything else this band's done makes my eyes involuntarily roll.
In the simplest sense, "MoRT" is sort of an extension of Xasthur's established style, where the aggressive, antagonistic forward edge of black metal is stripped out, turning the cloudy, indistinct ambiance that usually forms the background of the genre into the main focus. To be more precise, Blut Aus Nord sounds like the unpopular little brothers that swagger jacked Xasthur's style from around the same period in the mid-'00s- think Absonus Noctis, Exetheris (probably this album's closest stylistic relative, though obviously not an influence), and a lot of the particularly dank and dreary black/industrial material from the deeper reaches of the underground. Some of the haughtier supporters of this album like to claim that "MoRT" is wholly unlike anything heard before in black metal, but that's an utterly ignorant, borderline indefensible position. What differentiates "MoRT" from many of the bands it bears similarities to is that Blut Aus Nord attain this sort of off-kilter, murky, dissonant sound through its intentional pursuit rather than coincidence. In essence, they're very talented and perceptive musicians who understand the musical lexicon of black metal very well. In short: if you've never heard someone speak Swedish before and are confused by a Swede's gruff gibbering, it's much more likely that you're really dumb than that they're an alien.
"MoRT" is a one-trick pony, but that trick is executed better than I've probably ever seen before. Almost exclusively midpaced and swathed in murky, cavernous reverb, the music on "MoRT" is very clearly designed in what's intended to be a very offputting way: linear, seemingly arbitrary drum machine rhythms stumble around with clumsy tom fills and random splashes of chiming cymbals, guitars wander around aimlessly with riffs so obsessively and excessively dissonant that the notes fretted sound like they were chosen with dice, and vocals are perpetually under the oppression of some sort of electronic effect, distorting their already harsh origin to near inhuman levels. This doesn't even get into the perpetual, rumbling undercurrent of ambient noise, synths that lurk around the edges of the already multidirectional musical core, and periodic lapses into pure dark ambient/industrial that's, remarkably enough, just as interesting as the metallic portions of the disc. A comparison to Demilich isn't entirely out of the question; "MoRT" seems to come from a similar place of animosity towards the listener. Frankly, it feels like Blut Aus Nord pulled out every stop imaginable to make "MoRT" an unpleasant listening experience for just about everyone.
But despite this, I find this a million times more accessible than, say, "Penumbral Inorgantia," an album that shares many of the same musical traits as "MoRT" but is also about twenty times closer to traditional black metal in execution. It may be because "MoRT" is so relentlessly focused on its own malignancy; the sheer lack of dynamics normalizes what would for other bands be a sound employed in only the most distant, chaotic moments of a particular album. By not employing this sort of style as a musical climax of sorts, Blut Aus Nord forces the listener to interact with this deliberately unfriendly style on a very direct level. There's no blasting or catchy tremolo riffs to keep you tethered to reality: if you want to listen to "MoRT," you have no option but to deal with its naturally amorphous, uninviting sound. There's no moment on this album that's any more beckoning than a gunshot to the face.
And it's because of that that I find it so paradoxically easy to enjoy. While typically I would find the sheer lack of variation a problem (since the album is pretty much just an obsessive study of dissonance and linearity,) Blut Aus Nord are actually quite good at assembling this sort of music. A lot of people talk about how this style is random and impossible to follow, but I find it pretty elegantly designed, actually: while the "riffs" aren't exactly something you'll hum, they mostly revolve around a sort of theoretical endpoint of dissonance that's pretty easy to get into after a while, and more importantly, are surprisingly effective at keeping the listener's attention and stringing you along through the rather jagged landscape that makes up the tracks. The programming, while perhaps arrestingly weird to the inexperienced, is actually a hell of a lot steadier than it could be; nod your head along with any track's quarter note and more often than not you're going to fall into step with the snare drum. For all its ugliness and gestures of throwing the baby out with the bath water, the music on "MoRT" is actually remarkably accessible if your experience with metal goes beyond Nuclear Blast. Actually, the fact that "MoRT" comes off so distinctly and unequivocally black metal despite its seemingly complete departure from that genre's stylistic tropes is more telling than anything: what's happening here is better tread than you might consciously know, and moreover, is exceedingly well designed for what it is.
Blut Aus Nord seems to find a very fine line (or perhaps just hugs the opposite wall of the room we're used to hanging out in) in their songwriting on this album between arbitrary randomness and the omnipresent threat of consonance. It's actually surprising to me, upon repeated listens, just how good the band is at laying breadcrumbs for the listener to follow. Occasionally melodies pop up that sound like they're not too far off of something you might hear in a more traditional black metal band's weirdest moments, or the drum machine actually sticks to a straightforward double bass rhythm for a few short measures; while nothing ever truly resolves in the satisfyingly conclusive way many of us are used to in the music we listen to, what appears at first to be a complete middle finger to the listener is actually a very complex striptease of sorts; frankly, it wouldn't be possible to get through this album if there weren't more shades of normalcy than there immediately appears. But there are, and so Blut Aus Nord leaves you chasing the dragon throughout its duration- maybe it's just important to understand from the outset that you're never going to catch it and instead sit back and enjoy the ride.
A lot of people talk about how creepy and nightmarish this music supposedly is, but I find that characterization almost hilarious. While I guess this album does use the lexicon of self-consciously "scary" music- dissonance, linear rhythms, distorted vocals, etc.- there's really nothing overtly threatening about it. In fact, the lack of consonance or real identification with the listener really robs it of any sort of intimidating quality for me. It's less a terrifying spin on our reality than an opportunity to wander through a really weird, alien world, and I actually find it pretty fun to get engrossed in and let the odd qualities just wash over me. The most animosity I get from this album is a sort of cantankerous, hermetic quality; "MoRT" is an old man with a lot of books to read that just wants to be left the hell alone by you damn kids and your hip-hop music. It's seventy years old, retired after five decades in chemical engineering, and wants to be left to its black coffee, Wall Street Journal, and giant, steam-powered machines covered in writhing sigils and deformed faces etched into the pewter surface. Or something.
I actually heavily recommend this album to those out there who like things a bit weird and unconventional, but in lieu of just saying that, I'd like to offer an analogy that might let you appreciate "MoRT" more than you otherwise would. Listen to this album much in the same way you would go to a strip club. Appreciate it for exactly what it is, and don't make anything more of it. You're not going to fuck any of the girls. They don't actually like you. You're not going to get anything more out of the experience than having a girl with stubbly labia rub her cooch on your face for singles. But if you pace yourself, chill out, leave your credit cards at home, and enjoy the experience for what it is, you'll get a lot more out of the experience than that desperate fucker who's spent six grand over the past year trying to get Foxy Brown to give him her digits.
Now I'm not sure what the "MoRT" equivalent of an awkward, expensive blowjob in a semi-private room is, but I'm not sure I really need to look for it.
One of the most original albums I have ever heard, certainly within the Blut Aus Nord discography. That's saying quite a bit. The Work Which Transforms God really evoked desolation and coldness to such an extent that it would be hard to concoct a formula more unfriendly to human ears. But BAN have succeeded in doing precisely that with MoRT.
There are no blast beats or layered tremolo picking here. Instead, we've got bizarre time signatures, midpaced drum machines, and jazz fusion-esque guitar playing. The whole work is ugly, plodding, and mindbendingly weird.
At times I thought of Pestilence's Spheres, especially with the jazz fusion time signatures and weird riffs. Come to think of it, the guitars don't even seem to sound like guitars. This is very much what I would call "uneasy listening," as everything seems so alien and warped.
Vocally, there are tons of strange effects at play. Sometimes it renders the vocals completely incomprehensible, and they become some part of this disgusting pile of "music."
This is really fucking weird music. That cannot be understated.
It's easy to see how people looking for traditional BAN black metal would hate this album. As far as upholding the misanthropic aspect of black metal, MoRT does that without fail. This brings evokes feelings of nausea and decay, much like walking around in some abandoned city. I wish I had this on my latest trip to Chernobyl, as it would have made an excellent soundtrack.
In 2003, Blut Aus Nord released “The Work Which Transformed God.” The album integrated industrial beats, dissonant riffs and sweeping melodies in an alien atmosphere, creating one of the most haunting and original black metal albums of the last decade. Blut Aus Nord appeared to be at the forefront of a new frontier within black metal. After three years of anticipation, Blut Aus Nord finally released the follow up, “MoRT” (the French word for death). Unfortunately, the name is all too accurate. All the brilliant elements that composed “The Work…” have died and all that is left is a dull, industrial corpse.
“MoRT” is a painfully monochromatic album, always grounded in uneven industrial drum beats played at mid tempo. The beats are overlaid with herky-jerky dissonant guitar noodling. The same perfunctory progressions are repeated, seemingly forever, before freezing—like an obsolete machine trying to shift gears—and then falling into a new riff to repeat. Vocalist Vindvsal employs a wide range of vocals throughout the work, varying from growls to chants to whispers. Regardless of the type of vocals, they are always heavily processed with electronic overtones galore. Consequently, the vocals sound sloppy and muddy and are often completely indistinguishable within the mix. Other random electronic noises swirl around from time to time, failing to add any effect. The overall experience is like being on shrooms inside automobile factory.
That basically describes every song on the album. It is worth mentioning the creepy sounds in between songs (i.e. slow church bells, people screaming, inaudible words spoken by a monstrous voice) which are fairly dark sounding. However, a little atmosphere between songs doesn’t get you very far when the actual music so robotic.
It is not uncommon for bands to fail to live up to expectations after a masterwork. There are countless examples of disappointing follow ups. “MoRT” is more than a mere disappointment; it is a historic bust. Instead of developing upon the sound of “The Work”, Blut Aus Nord isolated its dissonant and industrial elements. While these elements worked brilliantly as part of a greater whole, on their own they are intolerable. In its attempt push the limits of black metal, “MoRT” falls flat on its face, onto a conveyor belt leading straight to the bargain bin.
(Originally written for http://listenwell-nocturnal.blogspot.com/)
MoRT marks the lowest point in Blut Aus Nord's 15+ year career as a band. I could handle the shift in style from Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age to The Mystical Beast of Rebellion- I though it was innovative, experimental, and forward progressing. After TMBOR, Blut Aus Nord released the monumental The Work Which Transforms God, which is no less than a classic. Industrial black metal at its finest, outdoing the likes of The Axis of Perdition and Aborym. The EP following that, Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity, was tolerable at best. A little more experimental, but tolerable. Then comes MoRT ('Death' in French, but in this case an acronym for 'Metamorphosis of Realistic Theories'). An abomination in every sense of the word.
First off, let me make it a point to showcase that there is zero metal to be found on this album. None. Zilch. They took the industrial/ambient elements of TWWTG and exploited them worse than a pedophile would exploit a seven year old girl. Gone are the innovative, dissonant guitar riffs. Gone are the extensive, complex drum patterns. Gone is any real presence of bass. Gone is nearly every aspect of music that made Blut Aus Nord the excellent band they are (or were, given the time MoRT was released). What we have here is a conglomerate of 'eerie' arpeggiated chords played in a 'sinister' fashion. What may have sounded 'creepy' to Vindsval's ears has come out completely asinine and loaded with cheese to the general public. The best comparison I could make here would be a freak fetish circus roleplay convention. MoRT would make the perfect soundtrack for a latex-clad freak show orgy.
Honestly, it seems that Vindsval has taken one too many hallucinogens before the conception of this wretch that passes for music. He grasps hold of one idea, strings it along until the point of a crescendo, and just before said crescendo, everything dies. Though this is a standalone album, and I can quote people on saying "MoRT is an achievement in the Industrial music genre," even by Industrial standards, there is nothing but filler material here. The same passages are repeated ad nauseam, and once you thought you were through, the next track kicks in and surprises you with THE SAME GOD DAMN MEASURES you heard in the previous "chapter," as this album is so fittingly divided into. To make matters worse, there are eight of them, clocking in at around 45 minutes.
I, personally, have only given this atrocity a few listens and the first two times, I couldn't even finish. If you're into monotone background noise, I suggest you put this on while you're doing house chores like vacuuming (actually, I think Vindsval applied a vacuum effect somewhere in there). There is nothing truly appealing about this from an objective standpoint, though the album's theme is supposedly abstract and introspective. Pseudo-intellectuals will have a field day with this.
Though I've done nothing but blast MoRT to no end, I do give Vindsval credit for Chapter V, however. The last few minutes are actually quite interesting and give a nice break from the rest of the monotony that is chapters I - IV, and VI - VIII. Sitting through the first four Chapters certainly isn't recommended, however.
Easily Blut Aus Nord's worst, and I hope they never return to this style again.
The primary attraction of Blut Aus Nord’s music resides in their uncanny ability to continuously challenge the listener. The French philosophers never cease to amaze with their capacity to evolve and reinvent themselves. Imagine, therefore, my surprise to discover that Vindsval and his not-so-merry crew sound as familiar as an old friend on their fifth full-length, 'MoRT' (French for dead and also an abbreviation of Metamorphosis of Realistic Theories).
A harrowing and unrelenting black metal entity on their first three (landmark) albums, Blut Aus Nord carved a new sound on monumental 2003 opus ‘The Work Which Transforms God’ – surely one of the most innovative contributions ever to the BM canon. They travelled further along that same Godfleshian experimental avenue on the subsequent EP ‘Thematic Emanation Of Archetypal Multiplicity’, and the album we're dealing with here continues to explore a growing fascination with horrific urban terror and horrible industrialisation. These eight chapters are nightmare soundscapes that tremble beneath the concrete jungle erected by modern man.
BAN have not made things easy for themselves; they have stubbornly crafted an album that answers their stone-cold muse. This is the stuff of real nightmare. Nothing to do with demons or trolls or Satan, Blut Aus Nord’s evil dwells closer to home: in the mind. Their output is the soundtrack to inner city strife, towering scaffolds, edifices weighed down by the filth of mankind, overdoses, traffic jams, hopelessness and crushed dreams. You can almost feel the decay setting in as the unsettling rhythms, subterranean chants, primeval gurgles and terrifying emissions take grip of your sanity.
‘MoRT' is a very uncomfortable ride and, while the creators do appear to be treading familiar ground at times, Blut Aus Nord’s art remains more compelling than 99% of what’s out there. While I was slightly disappointed that there are no curveballs contained herein (‘MoRT’ could be legitimately dubbed ‘TWWTG II'), the potency of this trauma-inducing mindfuckery is extraordinary.
Black Metal in the David Lynch vein, ‘MoRT’ would be hailed an absolute classic if Blut Aus Nord hadn’t already outdone themselves on its predecessor. As psyche-shifting, ego-altering and edifying as music gets.
Did I mention I hate album let-downs? MoRT is definately one of those. This album certainly is experimental, as the other reviews already pointed out. The problem I have with this is that is is way too experimental, and Blut Aus Nord's music has now strayed way too far from previous works. At least The Work Which Transforms God had some metal on it. Not all tracks, but the best ones certainly did. MoRT does not. There I was, bored, already into the 5th song and half way through it sounded like some metal was going to come about. "Sweet... about time!" I thought, but no. What I heard lasted for about a minute and a half and then the song ended. Back to the unstructered, trying-to-be-spooky clown music we went, and back to being bored I went. The vocals arent erie either, just whispered and annoying.
This album takes the elements Work Which Transforms God had that I would skip, (you know... those short tracks like The Fall, Supreme Abstract) makes them longer, more unlistenable, and makes 47 total minutes of it. I cant say I wasnt warned though. After Decorporation and Thematic Emanation, this album follows pretty much along those lines. But I thought hey... Agalloch released some boring nonsense after the Mantle but at least they came back with some metal with Ashes, not just boring acid riffs like we have here. The first 3 listens or so with MoRT, and I thought the first few tracks were the same song, just re-worked. Well they might as well be. I have the re-release of Work Which Transforms God that comes with Thematic Emanation as a 2nd CD, which to me was worthless. I wish they threw this in as a 3rd bonus CD, because I want my money back. Free drink coasters are fine with me, but not ones that cost $13.
If you are looking for metal, do yourself a favor and dont buy this like I did. Look somewhere else. Try Blut Aus Nord's previous albums, not EPs. I thought all 4 previous albums were great. Are you looking for some atmospheric black metal along the lines of Work Which Transforms God? Try the new Negura Bunget, its killer.
I like to think of Blut Aus Nord as a monstrous creature living beneath the surface of a blackened lagoon. Each time it rears its head at the surface we see an even more decayed, bloated, pallid and disfigured being, going back down to the depths to further erode what was never a holy being. The last time Blut Aus Nord reared its head we were blessed with "The Work Which Transforms God," a ghastly album of black metal with strange bending and contorted riffing coupled with percussive fury and eerie enigmatic vocals. "The Work Which Transforms God" is almost a pre-requisite to "Mort." If you picked up "Mort" without ever hearing black metal, it would be like sending a blind child into a dark cave to look for a dead bobcat made out of clouds.
"Mort" is a vague and complex menagerie of asymmetrical tones, discordant tangents and constantly diverting elements whirling about. There are no stable or solidified elements here. Lazy drum patterns pan from the every direction while unfamiliar vocals noises emerge from beneath your cerebral cortex. The loose fitting textures and almost serene anti-harmonies weave one of the most intricate and spacial listening experiences I have ever witnessed with an other-worldly authority. Each track on this album could be described as an instance of conversion. Non-chalant guitar noodling, unmusical ,all too unhuman percussion, and ghastly vocals float about in your mind until they converge in one axis causing the aural havoc that is "Mort."
"Mort" is an album that you need to prepare for in order to truly digest it. Actually I'm not so sure that it is you who does the digesting, this album has digested me every time I lhave listened to it.
The growing experimentalism of Blut aus Nord has acted uniformly (including, though it was not to my taste the last ep). At this point they seem to be at the antapex of the downward cycle of derangement, for I don't know how they could possibly become more absurd.
The riffs are the most confusing, unidentifiable, unorthodoxically structured and strange off-time things conceivable. Essentially, the rhythms are downstroked chords, followed in strange timing by a higher chord that abruptly halts and returns to a lower one. The sequencing of these rhythms is difficult to follow, and creates mental unease. Additionally, the frequent use of bends further complicates the sound of the riffs, as well as the odd the distortion and tuning. These riffs are generally midpaced or slow. The leads creep beneath the rhythms dissonantly bending and screeching in oddity. They as well are offtimed and unnaturally structured, and juxtapose the rhythms exponentially intensifying the experimental riffage.
The additional guitar effects, ambience, chants and miscellaneous rumbles are another key point. Howling in the background are the most sinister sounds. Electronic-sounding echoes, or further electronic-like effects on leads and rhythms creating an industrialized cold mechanization are used often. Low rumbling drones are also used regularly, ominously shifting. The chants and vocal experiments are perhaps the strangest of the aforementioned qualities. Very rarely are typical screams or growls used. Most often echoey whispers and mysterious chants sweep in and out. Occasionally the chants will take on a more dominantly eerie sound.
The percussion used here adds to the cold industrial feeling. It is mechanical and programmed, and using harsh, flat sounding unorthodox effects. The beats are not a solid backbone, but more and more experimentation. They are so offtime, most often they are involved in fills or other odd sequences. Additionally, the toms, cymbals and snare are given a further mechanical radiance to their tone to enhance the coldness of the sound. The double kick creeps or crawls behind the beat, shaking in an uneven manner.
This is indeed overall the most experimental in a growing chain of Blut aus Nord releases. It is not by any means what is traditionally called 'black metal', and perhaps by now can be considered some nameless entity in the wake of the early Blut aus Nord style. Any further experimentation will cause Vindsval to immaterialize, as his individual form will come apart in meditation and fade into the infinite cosmos. This is strongly recommended for fans of experimentalism, not for orthodox black metal fans.