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To me, Blut Aus Nord is probably the best black metal band that there is out there, even if they aren't the "true" type.
It's shocking to think that this is BAN's debut album. The composition of the songs is simply incredible, as is the musicianship. There is a massive influence from Immortal and Burzum in the guitar layering, and definitely Bathory with the sheer epic scale of everything. BAN mixes these together and takes it a step or two further. The songs are quite long, with many parts, yet flow smoothly. They suceed in creating an ambiance of cold and unforgiving vistas, not unlike their Norwegian peers.
The guitar work is great. Slightly muddy, with a warm tone not unlike Immortal's Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism, it weaves quite a simple, atmospheric layer with a few flourishes of melody liberally sprinkled throughout. The bass is there. Nothing special. This album, I believe, features real drums...they certainly sound more real than the programmed stuff that BAN would use later on.
The vocals are a tortured, incomprehensible rasp, and sometimes a clean chant. "My Prayer Beyond Gigungagap" is nothing but chanting, and quite enjoyable. Very epic! I'm not a huge fan of the harsher vocals, although they are arguably necessary. This album could have been instrumental, and it still would have been excellent.
Overall, this is not the most original BAN album. As much as it is enjoyable, it seems almost unoriginal by BAN standards, yet still blows away easily 95% of the black metal out there. And it is, however, an excellent debut, and their most "orthodox black metal."