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The Greatest Album Ever!! - 99%

Visionary, September 4th, 2005

I was first alerted to Blut Aus Nord with the monumental release of “The Work That Transforms God” sometime last year. While that release is excellent in its own unique way nothing could have prepared me for what dwelled further back. Plain and simple this is the most inspired release that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. This album reaches me deeper than any other music has done.

I bought the candlelight reissue of this album about a month ago and from the first listen I thought this was a fairly decent release, nothing special but the more and more I have listened to it the more and more it has grown on me.

The cover art is a drawing of a snow mountain while the booklet only contains drawings of more snow covered mountains. This fits the atmosphere of the album perfectly.

This release is dark yet extremely beautiful and epic at the same time. This album cannot be described as a full black metal album but more of a hybrid of black metal and dark ambient with a touch of industrial. The songwriting is phenomenal. The music just flows together beautifully with haunting keyboard passages coming and going with perfection..

The music is the rawest production that BAN has done. However it is not raw in the sense of waves of static that black metal is notorious for but just raw in a muddy sense as if the music is washing past your ears in a calm wind during the ambient passages or a full grown Blizzard during some of the more aggressive songs. The blizzard technique is not too dissimilar to Immortal’s “Battles in the North” but contains a much darker and isolated feel to it.

The keyboards are used to great effect here and do not sound at all cheesy but add to this eerie feeling of being isolated. Echoing effects are added onto the keyboards to hold onto that note and create that haunting effect. There are many keyboard passages here but unlike countless black metal bands that fail to accomplish anything with it except for filler BAN manage to greatly strengthen the atmosphere and create enough variation so the album sounds fresh from start to finish and it just leaves you craving for more. The vocals on this album are horribly pained wails that blend in with the music perfectly but at the same time not sounding abrasive.

There are always some background guitar riffs (except during the ambient passages) going on that create the wind or blizzard effect making it difficult to discern. The rest of the instruments seem to fall into this sea of riffage for the most part. Every now and then the guitars become slightly catchy creating more discernable riffs above the blizzard. At other times the guitars play very mournful riffs. All this changing in the style of riffing just toys with the listener while at the same time not making them feel as if they are detached from the music but just flows right along with the journey. This journey does not seem to have a clear path or a beginning or end but is just some isolated wandering through an endless snowy mountain range.

Upon finishing this album, the only logical thing to do is to replay it. Never before have I ever felt such an urge to do so. This album should be purchased by any fans of dark ambient or black metal. Heck I cannot see how anyone should not purchase this work of art.

Standout tracks, From Hlidskjalf, The Last Journey of Ringhorn