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


Blut Aus Nord


Experimental/Post Metal

3.38 | 20 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
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.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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