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Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars CD (album) cover

MEMORIA VETUSTA II: DIALOGUE WITH THE STARS

Blut Aus Nord

Experimental/Post Metal


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Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars With a few peaceful oases, this is an album that might be enjoyed by those who can appreciate constant noise in the form of double bass drumming, overdriven guitars, and growling vocals. The overall lack of either clarity or melody makes this one hard to sit through for me.

"Acceptance (Aske)" Admittedly, I was not expecting bright, calming synthesizer pad to open the album.

"Disciple's Libration (Lost in the Nine Worlds)" However, I was fully expecting a 180 degree turn on the second track, and that's precisely what happens. Rapid drumming and grating guitars begin the sonic assault, later joined by growling vocals and some rather tasteful lead guitar. The starkly beautiful denouement should have arrived sooner I think, because it's definitely the better, more intelligible part of the piece.

"The Cosmic Echoes of Non-Matter (Immaterial Voices of the Fathers)" Intense music barks right from the beginning. Constant double bass and vocal retching would make this something to pass by, as not even the lead guitar makes the piece interesting, but the tapestry of guitars midway through is pretty cool business.

"Translucent Body of Air (Sutta Anapanasati)" Very similar to the ending of the second track, this features shimmering guitar with an otherworldly tone creeping over it- simply amazing.

"The Formless Sphere (Beyond the Reason)" The sound on this one seems rather tinny, as though the bass is muffled, a problem that appears on other tracks as well, but not as bad as here. It is the usual constant onslaught of heavy drumming, sludgy guitar, and growling. Halfway through it becomes something far more lucid, with a great lead.

"...the Meditant (Dialogue With the Stars)" Blut aus Nord may be a metal band of some manner, but their talent really shines when they kill the distortion for a while and let the melody breathe. They do this in the beginning, and then slaughter it with acerbic gain and painful vocals. There is a lengthy guitar solo that consumes much of the middle of the track, which is somewhat melodic and economical. Midway through, the glistening guitar comes back for a while, only to be consumed once more by that garbled metal sound; the second consumption is far superior to the first, however, and the piece ends beautifully.

"The Alcove of Angels (Vipassana)" Perhaps the speediest track on the album, this may enthrall those who enjoy a constant barrage of noise, but I'm grateful for the occasional respites when there is no drumming at all. The exception is part of the final couple of minutes, when the music is closer to that of Mono- hauntingly melodic.

"Antithesis of the Flesh (...and Then Arises a New Essence)" One would think a band would tire of playing breakneck, tinny, slushy music, but not this one. An audible layer of keyboard adds another ingredient, but it is subtle. The guitar riffs are at their best when they are unaccompanied.

"Elevation" The final track is a breath of fresh air, as it were, since it has a refreshing tempo and a melodic clearness. It does grow repetitive, however- one can only sit through the same riff so many times, even if it is great music. Either way, the last one is the second best.

Report this review (#254732)
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars A previously decent black metal band does the same as Bathory did on Hammerheart and goes epic.

Well, take away the vikings and add some tuned guitars and you get this epic black metal album. Or Experimental Post-Metal as some call it. The music has been softened here compared with Memoria Vetusta Part I. There are still plenty of Burzum/Mayhem references here. Blut Aus Nord has not done a Genesis and gone pop-rock.......... Thankfully ! But you find some Benedict monks like chants here and some melodic stuff. Unfortunate, the melodic stuff does not stack up. The quality is not there. So what we get is a half-baked piece of bread which may appeal to the fans of epic metal. Although, I seriously doubt it. I think this album is a step down in quality compared to the likes of Memoria Vetusta Part I and their other albums. This album is just an album which goes nowhere and nowhere fast. Back to the drawing board, guys.

2 stars (barely)

Report this review (#261656)
Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars The album cover reflects the opening track quite well...an ambient introduction to an obviously black metallish album. I've heard plenty of black metal albums, so I'll give this album some credit from the getgo in that I haven't heard one sound quite like this. The production is where this album really shines...it's almost otherworldly and vast. Space rock on amphetamines. Concerning the guitars, there's a typical buzzy treble-heavy distorted guitar, but combined with a cleaner, warmer and reverbed guitar playing the overlapping melodies, the effect is actually trippy to an extent. Bass is audible, and the drums are odd, very precise and sharp...almost like an organic sounding drum machine. Thankfully, the drums aren't pushed front and center like on some metal albums, in fact I hardly notice them after awhile. Keyboards weave an atmospheric presence around this whole work to enhance the eerie yet epic vibe.

The album has two general settings. There's the aformentioned metallic sound setting and a drumless mellow setting with rather gorgeous sounding non-distorted guitars playing effective melodies that don't sound jarringly different compared to the other louder setting. The black metal this band plays, actually, isn't all that violent raging raw brutal whatever that entices teenage boys to not do there homework and buy black T-shirts with indecipherable band logos. The production is clearly meant to convey a lonely chilly atmosphere with an epic vibe, thus the album never felt grating. The vocals themselves, which are the standard black metal rasps with little to no variation are mixed low as to not get in the way with what the guitars and keyboards are attempting to convey.

As for the songs, they all carry the same vibe, same style, and possess the same sounds throughout. Not a surprise, to be honest. There are some exceptional moments within...I highly dig the opening odd melodic riffs of The Cosmic Echoes of Non-Matter, it's bizarre yet beautiful, and certain sections of The Formless Sphere are almost ridiculously majestic. There's a lot of good things to find, but there's also that sense of "sameness" that makes the last couple of tracks a chore to bother with since I've felt I heard it all before with the first batch of tunes. Still, it's all good music, with the exception of the vocals, which I found were bland and with hardly any character whatsoever...just a monotone rasp. Some of those song titles are rather spacey in a cool way..."Hey dude, it's like the formless sphere maaaaan".

Report this review (#465392)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Designating this album as a sequel to the earlier Memoria Vetusta album is a fairly clear sign that this time around Blut Aus Nord intends to kick back and get back to its roots rather than pressing into more novel territory. As far as old school atmospheric black metal with a progressive spin goes, it's reasonably acceptable album. As you might expect from the subtitle, there's a spacey angle woven into the music here and there - nothing as way-out-there as Darkspace, but just an undercurrent slipped in via the band's adept and subtle use of synthesisers, which is never allowed to overshadow the main point of the exercise - which is to rock the hell out, old school black metal style.

That said, after digesting more challenging works by the band like MoRT I find that this one tends to pale a little by comparison; it gives every impression of being recorded as a pallette-cleanser between more experimental works, and feels a little anonymous compared to the more unique works by the band. It's good, but it's not a classic.

Report this review (#768869)
Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The title (indicating that this is a direct sequel to the band's sophomore effort) might suggest that Blut aus Nord was performing a conscious throwback to its early years. And to a rather large extent, that's true. This unquestionably belongs to the melodic black metal genre, and the melodic elements of the songwriting are unquestionably of a piece with the band's early material.

But thirteen years passed in between the release of Memoria Vetusta I and this album, and in that time Blut aus Nord picked up elements of industrial metal, avant-garde metal, progressive metal, and more. This isn't in line with the dissonant material found on albums like The Work Which Transforms God or the first two volumes of the 777 trilogy, but a closer listen to the instrumentation will reveal that a number of the instrumental textures found on those records can also be found here. A closer listen to the songwriting will reveal that this has every bit of the odd time signatures, structural complexity, and general weirdness found in the band's progressive metal works. This may sound like simple melodic black metal on the surface, but it's a lot more than that.

Quite a few fans have singled this recording out as Blut aus Nord's finest work, and it's certainly the one I've gone back to most often. It's in many ways the band's most tuneful release (insofar as anything with harsh vocals overlaying everything can be tuneful), and in some ways it's even a bit relaxing. It doesn't hurt that some of the riffs are utterly killer, either. If you want to get someone into extreme metal, just play them the riff at the end of "The Formless Sphere". I could listen to that riff all day.

This may not be standard progressive metal, but there is a lot here for prog fans who want to dig below the surface, as long as you're willing to dig past the harsh vocals. It may not be the best point of introduction for new listeners to this band who aren't used to black metal; that's probably Cosmosophy, but if you've digested that and are wondering where to go next, I find this to be an excellent next step. The next entry in this series, Saturnian Poetry, has a higher rating on this site (and it's the band's first full-length recording to contain live rather than programmed drums), but for my money they've never topped this record.

Report this review (#1313146)
Posted Thursday, November 20, 2014 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars' - Blut aus Nord (97/100)

The Memoria Vetusta series had made itself out to be a refuge for melody in a career otherwise defined by a calculated ugliness. More often than not, Blut aus Nord has been driven by a cold industrial atmosphere and swirling dissonance. The Work Which Transforms God and MoRT are two of the most jarring albums I've ever heard from any genre. When Blut aus Nord decides to get dark, it is the stuff of nightmares unlike anything else I've heard. Vindsval had already demonstrated his tact with melodic writing on the first pair of albums. Nonetheless, the subsequent extremity that characterized Blut aus Nord made the partial return to melody on MVII: Dialogue with the Stars a total revelation.

It is difficult to write or think about Dialogue with the Stars without feeling total awe for what BaN accomplished here. I'm not even sure I could call it my favourite album of theirs-- that standing's always gone to TWWTG. Surprisingly however, it's this one that's rewarded repeated listening the most. Although the tragic melodies, clearcut riffs and tactful soloing of Fathers of the Icy Age returned on Dialogue with the Stars, it didn't come at any cost to the band's trademark weirdness. The album's first riff, opening up "Disciple's Libration", is a perfect example of this contrast. It's still technically dissonant by most every standard, but unlike the indecipherable murk of other albums, Vindsval channels it in such a way that it's instantly memorable from the first listen onward.

The greatest irony is that Dialogue with the Stars has been Blut aus Nord's biggest "grower" album from my experience of it. Even if there are plenty of earworms and distinct ideas, the song structures have been drawn out accordingly. Despite how ugly it was on the outside, I think there was a certain comfort in knowing an album like MoRT was essentially rhapsodic and meandering; you could sink into the atmosphere without feeling a need to decipher anything. The opposite rings true here. Vindsval carries these massive tracks along with the vision of a progressive rock master. Even if the album's shorter interludes feel a bit superfluous in light of its centrepieces, it doesn't feel like a single moment of the album has been spent frivolously. Blut aus Nord's masterful atmosphere has always been completely unique to my ears. The only thing that ever potentially held me at bay was the fact that there was nothing to grip one's ears upon. Dialogue with the Stars accomplishes that end even better than what I've come to expect from one of my all-time favourite acts.

Some of the most gorgeous exercises in melodic writing I've ever heard in black metal are featured here. "Disciple's Libration" is chock-full of them. "...the Meditant" and especially "Antithesis of the Flesh" make Vindsval out to be just as much a genius in this style as he is with the abrasive industrial stuff. It's kind of mind-blowing to think a trait they're so potentially great with is purposefully underused elsewhere. I think there's a lot of merit in giving each album its own niche. After having listened to their discography obsessively these last couple of weeks, I'm becoming convinced that Blut aus Nord are one of the few black metal bands out there that have written music to suit any mood. Unlike its weaker successor Saturnian Poetry, Dialogue with the Stars does different things without alienating the project's weird foundations.

Report this review (#1584944)
Posted Monday, July 4, 2016 | Review Permalink

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