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Thirteen Urban Ways 4 Groovy Bohemian Days - 83%

KonradKantor, May 1st, 2012

If Blutmond is willing to name their album Thirteen Urban Ways 4 Groovy Bohemian Days, then perhaps they're willing to try anything. Experimentation is certainly something this Swiss outfit isn't afraid of, but their latest album actually goes well beyond mere experimentation. Bohemian Days (excuse the abridgement) ties together much of what metal musicians have been toying around with for quite some time now. Although Blutmond has, in the literal sense, put away the corpse paint for good, the band still uses traditional aspects of black metal as the foundation of their overall sound. The difference is that synthesizers, trumpets and everyday sounds of urban life play just as big a role in the music as the guitars, drums and howls. So before you black metal purists start turning in your graves (oh...I forgot...some of you are still here) you might want to consider the following: Ihsahn, Samoth and and Frost are the first people you should thank for coming up with the brilliant idea (no, I'm not being facetious) of using automated electronic beats in "Total Warfare - Sea Serpent Remix," in their lesser known side project Zyklon B. So no, Blutmond isn't reinventing anything and they're not pioneers of a new genre, but they piece together a lot of metal's past experiments that would have otherwise been laying around and going to waste...and they do it quite well.

Have you ever listened to your headphones at a low enough volume that your surroundings start fitting themselves into the music? With Bohemian Days, the listener gets the same effect without having to be in a boisterous billiard hall or overcrowded metropolis. Thirty seconds into the album, sounds from everyday life are immediately thrown into the mix, as the sounds ot a door closing drown out the tumultuous black metal coming from behind it. It's no different than leaving your house with the music playing, really. The album proceeds in the same fashion, giving the listener proper dosages of enriched black metal while still reminding them that sounds from everyday life can play just as big a role in our music as any instrument. Whether Blutmond's future live performances will resemble Stomp in any way remains to be seen, but Bohemian Days is certainly as theatrical as it is engaging.

If you're wondering whether Blutmond's transitions are as spontaneous as their song titles, the answer is a resounding yes. Halfway through "You VS The Modern Lifestyle Obsession," heavy techno beats accompany the drums before completely taking over. The synthesizers aren't overbearing by any means, as they're only prevalent in a few songs. In "CRY.sys," emotional guitar melodies are paired with two-step/dubstep beat patterns followed by some turntable scratching and mixing. If, ten years from now, you find yourself wondering why metal has managed to outlive so many other modern genres of music, it's bands like this you should be thanking. Blutmond not only knows how to write traditional black metal songs better than most of today's bands, but they incorporate computerized technology into their music smoothly and with maximum fluidity. Additionally, tracks such as "Friday - Trapped in Mental Disorder" perfectly fuse together the depressing attributes of jazz and suicidal black metal. It's as if Miles Davis came down on a rainy day to produce one last song with Niklas Kvalforth.

The only potential problem with Bohemian Days is that the pure black metal tracks are so brilliant (think Shining or Watain) that all of its other facets seem to water down the atmosphere. With the exception of the trumpet, Blutmond hasn't quite figured out a way to make the everyday sounds of urban decay sound very emotional. Perhaps they come closest to this in "Metro Asthetix," where a man and woman discuss war crimes while rain and thunder can be heard in the background, as slowly paced guitars continuously ring out notes of emptiness. If, in its future ventures, Blutmond could produce more tracks of this nature, the results would be unfathomable. Until that time, we are left with yet another example of fine metal musicians who wanted to further expand their music in a variety of ways. Bohemian Days is an enjoyable, creative, emotional and contemporary take on the metal community's outlook on its dying world.

Bear witness to black metal -- a genre once shunned by many is now becoming a fine and delicate art. This is a sign of things to come.

Originally written for MetalReview.com