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(Originally posted by me to the Metal Music Archives: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/)
Getting a CD to me means, among other things, that if I want to write a review for that album, I no longer have to be glued to a computer if I want to use the music as a reference (which I always do). I've also developed a craving to collect certain bands' discographies, one of them being Blut aus Nord's. One thing that's unfortunate though is that the three Blut aus Nord CDs I own at the time of writing this review are, in my opinion, their three weakest: The Mystical Beast of Rebellion, MoRT, and 777-The Desanctification. None of these albums are inherently bad, but the good news is that any other album by them I buy is going to be better than what I have. For now though, let's get a review out for The Mystical Beast of Rebellion, the first Blut aus Nord album to be introduced to my collection.
Pressing the play button greets me with a fast paced assault of melodic tremolo guitar play and blast beating drums. This first piece, "Chapter I", maintains the drum pattern until a little after the four minute mark. But before that, the riffs do vary to prevent the song from becoming stagnant. Once the music ends, there's a minute of quiet sounding howling of wind that continues on into the first thirty seconds of the second song. Here lies the first problem this album has, and every song after the first one has that moment of quietness before and after the actual music. I call that time waste. I could handle it if it was just at the end of a song so I could just hit the skip button, but the fact that I must waste my precious finger energy holding the fast forward or otherwise sit waiting for the music to start again in the thirty or so second mark of the following song really grinds my gears.
Turning my attention to the actual music though, The Mystical Beast of Rebellion isn't very bad at all. Blut aus Nord have all but dropped the pagan act here and have begun playing their nightmarish style that they would be known for in their following albums. Vindisval's guitar work is well played and well written; and the dark, nightmarish atmosphere is definitely present here; but these attributes are stronger in some places on this album than other parts of the album. However, as the songs go on, this album's second problem becomes apparent. The fast paced blast beating that was used in the beginning of "Chapter I" is reused as the standard drum pattern through the rest of the songs, which makes the album a little monotonous. The guitar work is well varied though, and the drum pace does try to switch itself up at sections such as the final minutes of "Chapter I" and the entirety of "Chapter V" where things slow up a good bit.
The Mystical Beast of Rebellion as a whole isn't Blut aus Nord's most memorable piece of music, and having all the songs named "The Fall, Chapter (roman numeral)" doesn't help. But although I usually only go back to "Chapter I" because there's no silence at the beginning and it eventually does slow its pace down, giving the whole album a full listen still offers a pretty solid experience despite its flaws. The good news for those who want this album for themselves is that the most readily available version of this album is the 2011 version with a bonus disc with three more songs that are all slower than disc one's and may be thicker in the nightmare atmosphere. It's a pretty win/win situation in my book.
Here's a good album of mostly instrumental riff-based black metal minimalism / drone distinguished by unusual guitar chord progessions that rise and sink precipitously through the recording. On the whole there is considerable repetition and monotony with unvarying percussion on most tracks and half the guitars lurching up and down like strong undulating waves at sea during a heavy storm. The other strings keep up a deep buzzing drone.
There are six chapters of "The Fall" which are similar in speed and aggression and all are linked by passages of subsonic throbbing hum or murky ambience. Constant changes of key and the seesaw guitar passages give the music lots of drama and a certain sinister majesty befitting a fallen angel. The pace and fury prevent any theatricality or pretension from creeping into proceedings. What singing exists is usually very brief in each track and very screechy. The vocalist is located far distant from the music so he sounds as if he's in danger of being swept out and drowned in the maelstrom of guitar noise.
Come chapter 5 and the music slows down, there's some melody, demonic voices are muttering away somewhere and the riffing vecomes drawn out and drone-like. With chapter 6 the music picks up speed and fresh anger; the singing becomes defiant and the whole recording concludes with mind-bending (and maybe vomit-inducing) riffs and a dramatic cymbal flourish.
The album is just over 40 minutes in length so there are no excuses for not hearing it all the way through in one shot. Atmospheric interludes between tracks are important to the album's concept. The music has a substance and majesty quite remarkable for such a raw style and with fairly basic production. Individual tracks perhaps should have been more varied as only the last two tracks really stand out far beyond the others. My really major gripe though is the lack of printed lyrics - it would have helped my understanding of the album's concept if I knew what the lyrics were. Why, you don't think I'd want to sing along with my silly mewling sickly kitten squeak, do you?
The original version of this review was written for The Sound Projector (Issue 14) in 2005 but as there are no more print copies left and a soft copy of the issue doesn't appear to be available, I've adapted my review from TSP for www.metal-archives.com.
Blut Aus Nord’s third full-length has been sold out for a good while now, so it was only logical to see Debemur Morti Productions reissuing the album, and not merely making an identical package in comparison to the original; in addition to the new artwork, a second disc of wholly new material is attached to the package as well, comprising 37 minutes of fresh material in the same vein as the original record.
The Mystical Beast of Rebellion was the beginning of Blut Aus Nord’s transformation into the dissonant, mechanized style that has been further explored in the band’s latter albums such as The Work Which Transforms God and MoRT. There’s only little trace left of the atmospheric and melodic style that was presented on the first two albums: The Mystical Beast of Rebellion is a stripped down, weird, meandering piece of black metal where the drums are more clearly programmed, almost incessantly playing a stable blast beat throughout the album - it’s not until ”Chapter V” when the pace slows down. What’s left of the first records’ ambient elements is mere quiet humming between the seven tracks.
The three new songs, all simply named ”Chapter 7”, venture further into slower-paced, dark and doomy soundscapes, production-wise close to the first disc’s material. The last of the three takes this pattern the furthest, being a really slow 19-minute monster. I see no reason for a Blut Aus Nord fan not to like these newest offerings. In my books, nothing ever tops Ultima Thulée out of all the band’s releases, but that is not to underrate this convulsing weirdness that this album offers - on both discs.
To truly grasp what’s going on in the confusing maze of The Mystical Beast of Rebellion, careful attention is needed. As a background music this easily turns into a meaningless mess with little worth. This is what makes Blut Aus Nord’s unique style challenging on the album, even more so on the following records. The Mystical Beast of Rebellion is the most logical place to start discovering the band’s second style as it’s probably the most accessible of the bunch. I’d go even as far as saying that this is an influential album in the sense that it was among the first black metal albums to properly incorporate this sinister atonality.
4 / 5
[ http://www.vehementconjuration.com/ ]
The French know how to make twisted, unorthodox music. Where they fail at nearly everything mainstream, a select few bands from la France have pumped out some genre bending opuses. Blut Aus Nord is one of these bands, and I hold in especially high regard Fathers of the Icy Age and The Work Which Transforms God, two albums which precede and succeed this album, respectively. The former is a masterpiece of layered riffing and melodies, and the latter a desolate soundscape, both amazing albums.
Mystical Beast of Rebellion would logically seem to be a missing link between the two, but sadly it really isn't. Sonically, it's got much more in common with Blut Aus Nord's later "industrial" material. In fact, the production is nearly the same as TWWTG.
And that's about all that I can say good about this album.
The principle problem is the fact that the drum beat is nearly the same for all six tracks. Seriously. Over the top of that drum beat, you have layers of howling guitars, tremolo picked to create a blizzard of noise. Blut Aus Nord does create some very excellent riffage, especially these weird, dissonant chords. When it goes on and on, however, it doesn't work. Yes, it's ugly. Yes, it's cold and inhuman. It's also fucking boring.
This is basically a combination of Panzer Division Marduk and Burzum; long songs with blast beats and hypnotic riffing. There are a few moments where they break up the monotony with some midpaced weirdness, but it's not done nearly often enough.
I can understand a need to make an artistic statement by creating such a nihilistic album, and some people do enjoy it as such. I do not.
Luckily, there is a bonus disc now included with the original. The material on there is much slower, complete with twisted, ugly riffing. It's way more dynamic than the first six "chapters" of this album, and the songs sound dangerous and morbid, just with way that BAN should sound. And that is the sole reason why one would add this to their collection.
With the review of their new LP to follow it is to French black metallers Blut Aus Nord's second album, "The Mystical Beast of Rebellion", originally released in 2001, where we shall now start. Not just having been reissued in it's original format here, BAN have also taken the effort to record three new tracks totalling an extra 37 minutes to transform what many consider to be a defining work of their catalogue into a new double album.
BAN are not new to critical praise, with subsequent albums garnering the sort of mass appreciation that belies the unapproachable, belligerent nature of their music. Relentlessly bleak, spacey atmospheric black metal built around at times long, repetitive song structures is bound to divide the listening public between those who 'get' it and the rest, who are repulsed by the dissonance of the band's works and minimalistic nature of all their work. Getting past those obvious barriers to appreciation, however, and there is an underlying attractiveness to Blut Aus Nord's work: it's not pretty, happy or uplifting but there is a strange ethereal quantity to it that demands attention. The 40 minutes of the original album here are drowning in atmospherics with much of them at the forefront of the sound, or to be found only marginally behind the narcissistic Burzum-ic riffing in the likes of "The Fall: Chapter I" and "…IV". In the moments of furious blasting BAN can tend to get a little carried over with the repetition factor through the lack of guitar virtuosities, some of which are corrected in "The Fall: Chapter 7.7" (the first of the new tracks). When relying mostly on atmospherics ("…III", "…V") a BAN atmospheric is best described as the soundtrack to endless space travel, interrupted by the turbulence caused from discordant and chaotic riffing.
Where the original album of "The Mystical Beast…" lacks is the flourishes seen "Chapter 7.7" and the greater speed variation of "Chapter 7.777", where the band's heavily distorted guitar tones and reverberating drumming are slowed to a crawl for a highly-charged 19 minute conclusion to the double album. Commentating on the suitability of 19 minutes of such music is entirely dependent on personal opinion, though I'm pretty sure the open majority would be giving up long before the track's eventual conclusion.
The appealing aspects to the album are apparent to someone more at home with 2009's "Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars" but I can't help but feeling more interesting developments could be apparent to give the album the gift of greater playback value. As will be seen, oppressively cult releases are everything BAN have even stood for…
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net
Blut Aus Nord is a band that has been around for a very long time. The black metal band from France has been writing eerie and tormented music for almost 2 decades. I admittedly didn't give them much attention until Dialogue with the Stars which I enjoyed from time to time.
This is a reissue of Blut Aus Nord's 3rd full length released originally in 2001. Many consider the album to be one of their best efforts. It has all of the classic black metal prerequisites, the machine like blasting, tremolo riffing, and vocals that sound like he's being tortured to death. Their use of different chord structures helps it sound out and give it a very haunting tone.
The real interesting part of this reissue is the 2nd disc which the band added to it. They expanded upon the original sound and recorded 3 new songs to reflect more on the original sound attained on Mythical Beast... While a good bit of the full length blasted away similar to early Darkthrone, the 3 new tracks pull back the reigns and slow things down. Although, they do kick up the somber and depressing tones a good deal.
The new tracks are very similar in sound and production as the original full length and add 3 more chapters to The Fall. In these 3 tracks they almost match the length of the first 6. Each are very slow and very emotional. The emotions are nothing more than despair and depression. As each of the new tracks brood on standing in almost juxtaposition to its predecessors, they wind through many repetitive dark passages. It's something that is oddly hard to pull away from; it sucks you in. "Hypnotic minimalism" the label calls it.
The new tracks may be different, but in the end both the old and new achieve similar levels of tension and emotion. It's not often a band gets to re-release an album and reflect and expand upon the album with new material. More often than not, I would probably be against a band doing this, but Blut Aus Nord achieves great success in doing so.
Looking at the title of the album, and the track names, we have a theme-based album presumably about the fall of Satan. Due to the fact that there are no posted lyrics, I could only venture a guess as to the subject matter. Thus, I unfortunately cannot speculate properly as to whether or not the presentation was done well or not lyrically.
The music though, does follow a similar theme, and has a very straightforward approach. B.A.N. uses excellent riffs, sounding along the lines of an early Mgla (Presence era), and utilizing an atmosphere of a Hate Forest, but about half HF's speed. There are some interludes between each song, and is ambient in nature, usually ranging about 10-20 seconds in length, and serves as a kind of outro to each track. Once this is over, however, the music and aural assault continues.
The guitar work, as stated above, is excellent. They have a tremolo style that blends together really well with the synthesizer, and creates a very nice fuzzy wall of sound. The vocals are tuned a bit farther back in the mix, and are placed right in the middle of the drumming and guitars, and prohibits them from taking a foreground approach. This again adds to the atmosphere, and is standard to B.A.N's style. Drum-wise, it is upper mid-ranged constant blast beating, with very limited variation.
Overall, this album is nice aurally, but does get a bit redundant despite it's relatively short length. Six overly long songs, averaging about 7 minutes each, drags a bit when getting to about Chapter V. This is a minor flaw though, because of the album's brevity. This is definitely something worth taking the time to listen to. It is indeed a unique brand of atmospheric black metal.
Blut Aus Nord. They were a familiar face within the Black Metal community, and well respected as a crucial members in the French Black Metal Scene (FBM?). As a band they have gone through many stages, all conveying a sense of deathly beauty and atmospheric destruction. It is music that I would willingly die to.
But on to the actual construction of the music. The guitars are hauntingly produced, conveying almost a sense of torture, continually bombarded through your speakers. Just the progression of the notes and how they flow together and sound in combination of one another leaves you shivering.
The drums are nothing particularly special. However I have yet to find many black metal bands that drums truly play anything beyond a background percussion role. Nothing seems to really stand out, but it doesn’t take away from the performance. They could even be considered good, just not unique. Little is to be heard from the bass, but that’s another common expectancy within black metal.
What truly gets you on this album are the haunting vocals. They seem to blend perfectly with the tortured sound of the guitars. The vocalist seems to belt out wave after wave of vocals in a combination of tortured shriek and anger fueled scream. Absolutely brilliant, being one of the true conveyers of the bleakness of the atmosphere.
Overall, this is an album that is worth the purchase. It is a true representation of what the FBM scene can produce. It’s haunting and beautiful, while raw and destructive. The perfect combination of what black metal is supposed to be.
For Those of you who have not heaard Blut Aus Nord, this is a Buy Or Die! This is Black Metal that does not hold anything back. Truely original. The sound of the album is very abstract and tormenting. They use unique chord stuctures and to make them sound even stanger use a lot of bends and floyd rose trem movments to create this swirlling haunting sound that surrounds the listener. The vocals are RAZORBLADE-HARSH, This guys sounds like he swollowed broken glass. The drums are precise, im not sure if they are a drum machine, but as long as its not obvious, who cares? There is a lot of downtime between songs consisting of a low rumbling sound and some cool sound effects, but it's done well and adds to the overall mood, and really contributes to the torment this album brings. Antoher unique touch to the album is the track titlesthere virtualy arn't any. They read "Fall Chapter I, Fall chapter II... Fall chapter VI" the bottom line is that If you are into black metal and want to hear something make your brain twist inside of your head this is a must. This album gives a new definition to atmosphere.