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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
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Sure the Scandinavian nations were the first dementors of doom and din to usher in the first raging sonic fury of the black metal universe starting all the way back in the 80s when Bon Jovi was still 'Living On A Prayer,' but as the 21st century wrested control over an expired millennium, it seems that the nation of France was poised to take the reins and steer the black metal beast into far more bizarre experimental arenas. Initiated by the Satanic theologies of Deathspell Omega, France has since consistently generated some of the most far-reaching examples of avant-garde and progressive black metal ranging from the medieval melancholy of Peste Noire to the psychedelic ambient surreality of Murmu're.

The Mondeville based BLUT AUS NORD is amongst the early pioneers of more progressively infused black metal. Basically the solo project of Vindsval, the project started out in 1993 with two demo releases appearing before the 1995 debut 'Ultima Thul'e' which joined the wolf pack of black metal artists who were quickly expanding the subgenere's range into an ever diversified sound spectrum. Defiantly ahead of the pack, the albums of the 1990s may not quite be as complex as the one's that followed but on the second BLUT AUS NORD album titled MEMORIA VETUSTA I: FATHERS OF THE ICY AGE the blueprints were designed for a diversified soundscape to expand its tentacles into ever progressive pastures.

By incorporating icy atmospheres and expansive progressive meanderings, Vindsval was well on his way to becoming one of the 21st century's masterminds of black metal evolution. MEMORIA VETUSTA I: FATHERS OF THE ICY AGE basically picks up where 'Ultima Tul'e' left off with the ideas presented evolving into more majestic monstrous black metal magic. All instruments once again played exclusively by Vindsval, MEMORIA VETUSTA I stands out in the sea of anti-Christian rage and Viking metal odes of yore and tackles the more esoteric subject matter that revolves around metaphysical subjects and all things deeply occult. The compositions are extended into massive sprawls of buzzsaw guitar distortion oscillating over the horizons of frigid winter landscapes accompanied by murky bass lines, percussive bombast and atmospheric cloud covers.

Upon first listen, BLUT AUS NORD can sound a lot like any other black metal band from the second wave of the 90s. Tremelo picking guitar style distorted to high heaven, buried raspy vocals screaming out from the suffocating din and an energetic percussive bombast that while not exactly blastbeating, still offers a veritable drum kit workout or two. Where BLUT AUS NORD stands out at this period of time is in the sophistication of how the compositions are constructed. Eschewing the simple straightforward approach, BLUT AUS NORD tackled more labyrinthine song structures that wend and win through various passages with an infinite supply of riffing variations and occasional outbursts into folky medieval sounding clean vocals that evoke a connection to the Viking metal scene of the north.

For those who are initiated, there actually is a storyline buried in the raw lo-fi outbursts of noise laden orotundity but for those not inclined to follow the epic tales of wolves and dwarfhills, then a completely ignorant approach is even more mystifying and probably even more gratifying as many of these storylines don't pass the muster under closer scrutiny. Along for the ride on the undulating peaks and troughs of the guitar riffs are higher register guitar licks that often threaten to burst into fully fueled solos but they always stop short and simply repeat the melody in a more pronounced manner above the raging riff machine from whence it spawns.

All in all, MEMORIA VETUSTA I: FATHERS OF THE ICY AGE is a very mature second offering from one of France's most enduring examples of progressively infused black metal and an excellent bridge into the more avant-garde and experimental releases to follow. Loaded with sophisticated twists and turns and icy atmospheres guiding the journey through a never-ending journey, BLUT AUS NORD's earliest albums may not tackle the same eeriness that the later more acclaimed albums touch upon but are excellent examples of black metal in their own right. Musically, MEMORIA VETUSTA I falls somewhere between the intense fury of early Emperor albums and the slower tempos of Greek pioneers such as Rotting Christ. The compositions exhibit sophistication and variations but unleash them subtlety and in a very reserved manner. This is the type of music that engages in a stampeding repetition and just changes things up a little every now and then until you realize that everything has become something else. Best of all, this is a consistent album from beginning to end.

Report this review (#2265581)
Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | Review Permalink

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