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Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age CD (album) cover


Blut Aus Nord

Experimental/Post Metal

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2 stars Very heavy black metal with a twist.

Richard Wagner left a legacy. One of them is perhaps black metal. At least the type of black metal with a massive sound and some melody. We are not talking about the likes of Immortal and Darkthrone. We are talking about a band like Blut Aus Nord. Richard Wagner's operas and symphonies is perhaps a bigger influence on Blut Aus Nord than the likes of Venom, Bathory and Mayhem. Blut Aus Nord has nothing in common with Venom and not much in common with Bathory and Mayhem either. Welcome to the music Richard Wagner would had written if he was alive today.

This album is the second of Blut Aus Nord's albums and a natural development from the debut album. Blut Aus Nord was still in transit being a decent black metal band to a great black metal band on this album. This album is pretty melodic at places. But most of all; it is crushing heavy. As crushing heavy as you are ever likely to hear. Although there are a lot of influences from the likes of Richard Wagner in their music, this is by no means a black metal opera. It is different from normal black metal, but still black metal. The difference is probably because Blut Aus Nord is from France and not from a Scandinavian country. They therefore have a different take on black metal. The forests has been replaced with European culture like the opera in Paris. The vocals are mostly rasping vocals, but there are also some clear vocals. The instruments are mostly guitars, bass and drums. The usual fare.

The quality is not particular great. It is a transitional album released on a very small label (Impure Creations Records/Velvet Music. Later re-released through the bigger Candlelight label) and that shows. It is still not a bad album and it is worth checking out if you are into this type of music. But I have to give it two stars. Mostly because the songs are not that great. But still.........

2 stars

Report this review (#241890)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age" is the 2nd full-length studio album by French black metal act Blut aus Nord. The album was released through Impure Creations Records in 1996. The original version was limited to 1000 copies. The album was re-released by Candlelight Records US division in 2005 with the shortened title "Fathers of the Icy Age".

The music on the album is atmospheric and at times slightly experimental black metal. The vocals are raspy. The use of keyboards in the music really enhances the dark atmosphere and at times provide an epic touch to the tracks. The music is not symphonic though and the keyboards are generally very tastefully placed in the mix and clearly composed to create atmosphere rather than playing a lead role. The tempos in the tracks are mostly mid-paced but there are faster paced parts too. The generally (for black metal) slow pace also helps build the epic atmosphere that is present on the album.

The sound production is raw and a bit lo-fi, but not without charm, and it suits the rawness of the music well. Upon conclusion "Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age" is a good quality atmospheric black metal release and a great follow up to "Ultima Thulée (1995)". The music is intriguing and cleverly composed, the musicianship are solid, and the sound production suits the music, so I´d say a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fair.

Report this review (#1225900)
Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age' - Blut aus Nord (77/100)

The Memoria Vetusta series has become a lot more significant than I think it was first meant to be. I wonder what Vindsval's original idea for it was. Where Dialogue with the Stars and Saturnian Poetry both marked a melodic detour from Blut aus Nord's usual swirling ugliness, Fathers of the Icy Age wasn't really so much of a change from the debut. Things were less over-the-place than they were on Ultima Thulée, but I don't think Memoria Vetusta would be truly defined until this album's sequel a decade later.

That's not to say that Fathers of the Icy Age is anything short of excellence, just that Blut aus Nord's subsequent dive into coldly industrial territory would give their melodic bouts a greater sense of weight. Though it's arguably less ambitious than Ultima Thulée, Vindsval certainly put his late teens towards sharpening himself as one of black metal's strongest composers. Fathers of the Icy Age structurally bears a lot in common with their 2009 masterpiece Dialogue with the Stars, comprised of lengthy, epic pieces with a distinctly melodic bent amid the trademark eeriness. Much like Dialogue with the Stars (itself easily the highlight of this series) I'm impressed and surprised by how well melody is woven into these pieces. Blut aus Nord's guitars have always had a weird, grating edge to them. A lot of the best moments of this album are thanks to Vindsval's ability to amplify the signature weirdness with gorgeous leads and harmony.

Moreso even than the other Memoria Vetusta records, Fathers of the Icy Age has a lot of its success to thank for its highlight moments. Unlike Ultima Thulée, the songwriting all tends to follow a similar course, hopping between tense avant-garde riff builds and grand melodic resolutions. Because there's not a lot of variety in the songs this time around, the best material has a way of rising to the top while the rest suffers a bit. Look to the heartstopping clean vocal finale in "Slaughterday (The Heathen Blood of Ours)" or the tense melodic riffing in "Guardians of the Dark Lake" to get a taste for the best that Fathers of the Icy Age has to offer. "Slaughterday" in particular probably ranks up there with the best tracks this band has ever put out, and like "My Prayer Beyond Ginnungagap" from the album prior, makes me sad that Vindsval never made a more prominent use of his powerful cleans.

Fathers of the Icy Age is another quality album from Blut aus Nord, and while it would still take some good arguing to convince me it deserves mention alongside their very best, it's a feat unto itself that they managed to follow up the masterpiece debut and quite nearly surpass it. In some ways, I think Fathers of the Icy Age at least proved that Blut aus Nord were capable of honing and maturing their craft. Of course, within a few short years they'd be wandering off to their industrial cyber-hell, exchanging the melodic promise for mind-rending ugliness. Even if only as a forebear to Dialogue with the Stars however, Fathers of the Icy Age demands respect.

Report this review (#1584886)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2016 | Review Permalink

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