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BLUT AUS NORD

Experimental/Post Metal • France


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Blut Aus Nord biography
Formed in Mondeville, Calvados, France in 1994

BLUT AUS NORD is a French experimental/ avant garde black metal act formed in 1994 by vocalist/ guitarist VINDSVAL. VINDSVAL started the black metal act VLAD in 1993 but after recording two demos under this monicker he opted for a name change. BLUT AUS NORD recorded the first couple of releases as a one-man act before adding additional members.

The debut album Ultima Thulée was released in 1995 and a second album followed in 1996 called Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age. There was a five year recording break before the third album release The Mystical Beast of Rebellion (2003). Up until then BLUT AUS NORD had been more or less a traditional black metal act but with the fourth studio album release The Work Which Transforms God (2004), the band started incorporating experimental and avant garde elements to their sound. The fifth studio album MoRT (2006) continues the avant garde approach of it´s predecessor while the band has somewhat returned to more traditional black metal ( still with some experimental elements) on their two latest studio albums Odinist - The Destruction of Reason by Illumination (2007) and Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars (2009).

(Biography written by UMUR)

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Hallucinogen (North American Exclusive Transparent Purple with Milky Merge 2LP)Hallucinogen (North American Exclusive Transparent Purple with Milky Merge 2LP)
Debemur Morti Productions 2019
$36.09
777 - The Desanctification777 - The Desanctification
Debemur Morti Productions 2019
$26.98
Memoria Vestusa III - Saturnian PoetryMemoria Vestusa III - Saturnian Poetry
Debemur Morti Productions 2018
$12.91
$17.19 (used)
777: Cosmosophy777: Cosmosophy
Debemur Morti Productions 2017
$13.03
$16.59 (used)
Deus Salutis MeaeDeus Salutis Meae
Debemur Morti Productions 2018
$12.21
$8.00 (used)
777 - Sect(s)777 - Sect(s)
Seasons Of Mist 2017
$11.50
$8.28 (used)
The Work Which Transforms GodThe Work Which Transforms God
CANDLELIGHT RECORDS 2015
$14.96 (used)
OdinistOdinist
CANDLELIGHT RECORDS 2015
$6.59
$3.81 (used)
777 - Sect(s)777 - Sect(s)
Debemur Morti Productions 2019
$26.98
MortMort
CANDLELIGHT RECORDS 2015
$18.35
$34.71 (used)

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BLUT AUS NORD discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BLUT AUS NORD top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 15 ratings
Ultima Thulée
1995
3.33 | 12 ratings
Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age
1996
2.56 | 14 ratings
The Mystical Beast of Rebellion
2001
4.02 | 22 ratings
The Work Which Transforms God
2003
2.88 | 14 ratings
MoRT
2006
3.73 | 11 ratings
Odinist - The Destruction of Reason by Illumination
2007
1.31 | 4 ratings
Dissociated Human Junction
2007
3.31 | 20 ratings
Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars
2009
3.64 | 15 ratings
777 - Sect(s)
2011
3.73 | 16 ratings
777 - The Desanctification
2011
4.00 | 13 ratings
777 - Cosmosophy
2012
4.47 | 11 ratings
Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
2014
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hallucinogen
2019

BLUT AUS NORD Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLUT AUS NORD Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BLUT AUS NORD Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLUT AUS NORD Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

1.00 | 1 ratings
Decorporation...
2004
2.67 | 3 ratings
Thematic Emanation Of Archetypal Multiplicity
2005
2.58 | 5 ratings
What Once Was... Liber I
2010
4.00 | 1 ratings
What Once Was... Liber II
2012
3.00 | 1 ratings
What Once Was... Liber III
2013

BLUT AUS NORD Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Mystical Beast of Rebellion by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.56 | 14 ratings

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The Mystical Beast of Rebellion
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars BLUT AUS NORD formed all the way back in 1994 as the solo project of Vindsval but as a black metal band only managed to release two albums in the 90s however on "Ultima Thulée" and "Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age," what began as a somewhat traditional atmospheric black metal project slowly developed into more progressive and experimental realms outside the orthodoxies of the typical Darkthrone inspired second wave. While its questionable if the project was intended to be a permanent ongoing one or just one of many to see which experiments find the biggest audience, after 1996's "Memoria Vetusta I," Vindsval set the project aside for five whole years while he dabbled in other bands such as "Children Of Maani" and "The Eye."

After all was said and done, it seemed that the BLUT AUS NORD albums were gaining the most traction so that was the trajectory Vindsval has remained on ever since. It wouldn't be until 2001 that BLUT AUS NORD would officially release the third album THE MYSTICAL BEAST OF REBELLION and for the first time session musicians were given credit. Vindsval handled the usual guitar and vocal combo pack, W.D. Feld performed on drums and keyboards whereas Nahaim handled bass duties. This third offering was basically a transition album from the project's second wave black metal roots to the more esoteric experiments that followed. This album has appeared in two significantly different forms.

The original release with the darkened hues of brown and mysterious symbolic faces on the album cover consisted of only six tracks, each titled "The Fall" followed by "Chapter" and the accompanying Roman numeral. Often considered one of the weakest early BLUT AUS NORD albums due to the inconsistent quality, the album was re-released in 2010 with a completely different album cover. That one displayed a strange MYTHICAL BEAST that looks like what i would imagine to be a were-goat if such a thing existed. This re-release contains a second album or disc that adds an additional three tracks but due to the more progressive and experimental nature, these three tracks approach the 40 minute mark and essentially constitute a new album. I highly recommend this version if you set out to purchase this album as it's this second bonus album that is far superior to the ho hum original track listing.

The original album is very much a mixed bag. In fact mostly an empty bag. The first four tracks almost sound like the same mix of repetitive guitar riffs and chord progressions with only minor variations undetectable to the passive listener. Sounding more like early Darkthrone than anything of the 21st century progressive era of BLUT AUS NORD, it's almost as if Vindsval resurrected some demos out of the vault just to take up space. Not a stellar idea for an album that emerged five years after its predecessor. Hardly anything to get excited about given the quickened evolution of the black metal paradigms splintering into disparate factions. About as exciting as a faux bloodbath in Easter egg dye. It's amazingly dull and monotonous. Only the beastly calls in between tracks stand out as something to pinpoint one's attention upon. If there's ever a black metal album that can put you to sleep, the first four tracks of this one should do the trick.

Luckily the album redeems itself from being a total waste of time with track 5, "The Fall: Chapter V" which suddenly transmogrifies into a bona fide interesting listening experience. The beastly calls announce the change and instead of a quickened buzzsaw guitar riff-fest in hyperdrive, the tempo is slowed down into a doomy dirge-like dread and the beast grunts continue as the track plods along with heavy distorted guitars, a murky hidden bass and a lazy drumbeat slowly build the gloomy atmospheric cloud covers and then begin to ratchet up the tension with bizarre guitar antics. Some kinds of guitar bends and a huge improvement in vocals over the generic nature of the earlier tracks. The finale "The Fall: Chapter VI" continues the developments and is equally enthralling however the album ends with an irritating 3 minutes of silence. I HATE THAT!!!!!

NOW, ABOUT THE RE-ISSUE, the ONLY ONE TO CHECK OUT REALLY

Given the lackluster selections presented on the original mostly demo quality release of THE MYTHICAL BEAST OF REBELLION, it was a wise decision for Vindsval to make it worthwhile for newbies to add a bunch of bonus material and i'm happy to say that this bonus material is far superior to anything on the original release. Stylistically these three newer tracks are intended to supplement the original material by keeping the theme intact. Therefore we get "The Fall: Chapter 7.7" followed by the two more same titles that tack on "7.77" and "7.777" which adds a little twist. These tracks display the same doomy plodding of the "Chapters V" and "VI" but takes those ideas to the logical conclusions. The tracks retain the same snail's pace trot but are fortified with extremely angular riffs with jangly dissonance indicating that the emergence of Deathspell Omega's popularity since the first release in 2001 clearly played a role in Vindsval's approach.

The three tracks comprise a complete album's worth of material. "Chapter 7.7" slinks over the eight minute mark, "Chapter 7.77" oozes past the nine and the grand finale "Chapter 7.777" clocks in at 21 seconds past the 19 minute mark however as lengthy as these tracks are, they all share the same characteristics. All slowly stomp down black metal alley with jagged razor sharp guitar angularities and deeply buried raspy vocals not so prominent as on the original release. The progressive elements are subtle but distinctly complex as the tritone attack of the guitars, bass and drums drift in and out of sync while darkened atmospheric overcasts keep the darkened doom effect in full obscureness. Overall both discs of this collection are extremely repetitive and hypnotic however it's this second newer one that offers more subtle variations that keep the listening experience more active and also at this point BLUT AUS NORD has mastered the art of sonic terror, which has remained a steadfast trait of the underground extreme metal scene of France.

The original release of THE MYTHICAL BEAST OF REBELLION is perhaps the weakest album in the project's lengthy canon and only worthy of 2 stars, however the second disc is an intricately designed slab of blackened doom metal worthy of a 4 star rating so if i had to average the two albums together then it's an obvious 3 stars. I cannot stress though how imperative it is to only purchase the version of this album with the bonus tracks. I simply pretend that the second disc is what the original album was supposed to be and ignore what actually was put out in 2001. Still though even the original isn't a complete waste of time, only about 2/3 of it is. Vindsval would completely resurrect BLUT AUS NORD from hibernation and never again allow so much time to lapse between albums. His next album "The Work Which Transforms God" took things to an even more sophisticated level and brought the project into the big boys club of extreme metal and things would never be the same.

 Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.33 | 12 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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.

 Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.47 | 11 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry' - Blut aus Nord (87/100)

It may have been disappointing as a true successor to Dialogue with the Stars, but Vindsval's third statement in his Memoria Vetusta series kept in touch with its goals more than listeners generally cared to notice. Starting with Fathers of the Icy Age and certainly culminating on Dialogue with the Stars five years before this, a Memoria Vetusta album releases Blut aus Nord swirling guitar trademarks from a context that is typically dissonant and mechanical. Even if he's only travelled this path a handful of times in his career, each MV album is a proud testament that Vindsval's vision is totally compatible with the organic, warm and melodic.

Saturnian Poetry had the impossible task of following up one of my favourite albums of all time. Dialogue with the Stars was there for me at a rough stint in my life, and I don't think it would be possible for another Blut aus Nord album to strike me so hard. With the perfection of MVII in mind, it was a clever move to forego a standard sequel and instead push the series towards its expressed goal as a whole. A small but monumental decision to go forward is the inclusion of a real drummer-- the first in Blut aus Nord history. Drummer Thorns has sown his oats on everything from Acherontas to Frostmoon Eclipse records. Here, he shows a strong understanding of what Vindsval typically wants out of his percussion. Take the unprecedented live drummer with the gorgeous artwork and warm production, and you can really tell Vindsval opened his music to its potential humanity.

Gone are a lot of the distinct melodies and keyboard arrangements from Dialogue with the Stars. In making Memoria Vetusta appropriately organic, Blut aus Nord have also gone more straightforward and traditional. That's not to say that Saturnian Poetry is less challenging; the jarring chord progressions are still every bit as unpredictable. The songwriting on Saturnian Poetry is actually some of the most consistently realized I've ever heard on a BaN album. If there's ever an issue with it really, it would simply be that the vision is narrower. Vindsval doesn't clamber for the same outlandish high points that Dialogue with the Stars was rife with. Saturnian Poetry draws from a standard atmospheric black metal template. The undermixed vocals and signature guitars still make Saturnian Poetry unmistakably BaN, but it's understandable that some fans would be let down by this decision.

If Saturnian Poetry is a less ambitious Blut aus Nord album, in a series that is usually seen as cornerstones of their career, I wouldn't know the criticism when I'm actually listening to it. While it didn't hit me with the same instant awe as Dialogue with the Stars, the homogeneous black metal swirling here has some of Vindsval's best riffs. While the smaller scope probably justifies Saturnian Poetry as a "lesser" MV album, it arguably enjoys better flow and execution than its predecessors. Saturnian Poetry is a special grower in a storied career full of them. Each time I hear it, I think I enjoy it a little bit more.

 Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.31 | 20 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by 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.

 Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.33 | 12 ratings

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Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by 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.

 MoRT by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2006
2.88 | 14 ratings

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MoRT
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Whereas Blut Aus Nord's preceding album to this, The Work Which Transforms God, presented a series of compositions that juxtaposed dark industrial ambient sections with eruptions of black metal fury, here they take their experiment further. On MoRT, just as the distinctions between tracks break down (each reduced to a single chapter in one massive piece), so too does the distinction between the black metal, industrial, and ambient aspects of the group's sound, yielding a unique sonic landscape through which tormented vocals in the style of Tibetan throat singing warble.

It certainly isn't for everyone, and it's no surprise that people have an extreme reaction to it one way or another, but for my money it's one of the most rewarding sonic experiments arising from the black metal scene I have heard.

 Ultima Thulée by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.06 | 15 ratings

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Ultima Thulée
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Ultima Thulee' - Blut aus Nord (83/100)

If I ever feel I need to put my ego in check, I remind myself that Vindsval wrote and recorded Ultima Thulée when he was fifteen years old. Sure, you don't need to look far to find black metal musicians who got their start when they were incredibly young, but a lot of the young teens mucked about with raw demos, putting out better-developed material once they were older. Vindsval had his rough demo period in his time working under the name Vlad in the years leading up to Ultima Thulée, but by the time of a full-length it's clear he already knew exactly what to do and how to do it.

Ultima Thulée is a painfully underrated and overlooked piece of work. Released in 1995, a year where the Second Wave was finally beginning to die down, Ultima Thulée is a burst of fresh air. Blut aus Nord would evolve into one of black metal's strangest entities in the years following, but even starting out there was already a weird Otherness to the atmosphere. First impressions had me thinking of it as a crunchier-sounding Burzum. Indeed, the fantastical, wintery atmosphere is here (albeit with far chuggier tones than master Varg is wont to use) but Ultima Thulée hints at the band's avant-garde destiny more than most of their fans lead on. Listen to the way "The Son of Hoarfrost" opens up the album with horror film piano before bursting into thick guitars, eerie synths, chattering drums and murky screams. They're not a great deal weirder than early Emperor here, but a lot of their defining traits were onboard from the very start.

That's not to say that Ultima Thulée should be seen as a step to something greater. My appreciation for many debuts often takes the form of admiring how a band go to a certain point, but I won't hesitate in saying Blut aus Nord's genius was already just about in full swing with this one; it just takes a different shape than what most listeners are used to hearing from them. The thick atmosphere is best expressed on "The Plain of Ida", where Vindsval builds amazing riffs beginning under a droning dungeon synth line that would make Burzum weep. Where the song might naturally stop some minutes in, Vindsval tacks on a spacey build that almost nearly recalls Voivod. Although the song titles might make Ultima Thulée out to be a more traditional black metal record, there are all sorts of oddities found in the music. For another example, the plodding riffs on "The Last Journey of Ringhorn" sounds like a death-doom interpretation of what life would be like on an asteroid mining colony. It's strange to hear such a strong sci-fi flavour on an album that's supposedly about Norse mythology. I'm not surprised Blut aus Nord ultimately changed their tune in that regard.

Ultima Thulée is consistently engaging and surprisingly varied in its efforts. I'm not surprised that Blut aus Nord could excel in more "traditional" territory (relatively speaking, at least) but it is incredible that they had their craft nailed from such an early stage. Excellence in youth can sometimes be attributed to luck and simple intuition, but I don't think that was the case for Vindsval. There was real vision behind this album. If you're having any trouble finding it, keep an ear out for the way Ultima Thulée is structured. Like a lot of the best black metal albums from that era, the album can take you on a journey if you let it. Ambient threads like "My Prayer Beyond Ginnungagap" are allowed to take full blossom in the middle of the album. The end result may still be shy of the groundshaking perfection achieved on later albums like The Work Which Transforms God, but Blut aus Nord were out to break rules from the very beginning.

 The Work Which Transforms God by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.02 | 22 ratings

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The Work Which Transforms God
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

5 stars 'The Work Which Transforms God' - Blut aus Nord (96/100)

Blut aus Nord occupy a completely unique space in my mind. Even in light of their copycats, there's not a single group that shares their particular atmosphere. So many black metal bands try to sound "inhuman" with their music, but how many achieve that impression completely? If we were talking about a more traditional kind of black metal or a Darkclone, that inhumanness would be naturally interpreted as that of a demon, or some evil creature besides. Blut aus Nord takes a very different approach to Otherness, and they're all the more chilling for it. Each time I listen to this band, I get the growing sense that this is what black metal would sound like if it were written by a malevolent AI program. The Work Which Transforms God is the best/worst offender in this respect. Experience of this album lends one of the most striking impressions I've ever felt in black metal: This is the work of a completely non-human entity, or at least someone with the genius vision to bring that effect to life.

In many ways, The Work Which Transforms God is Blut aus Nord's defining album. Vindsval has always stuck fairly close to this industrial-laden, dissonant sound, but every album has weighed certain aspects over others. A more recent BaN record, Saturnian Poetry, was incredibly organic-sounding, and only bears resemblance to this in some of the tones and guitar phrasings. Even so, I never think of Blut aus Nord without thinking of the cold, empty pit they dug for themselves on this one. The Work Which Transforms God is almost entirely defined by its atmosphere, an industrial wasteland-variety sparseness that I've never heard brought to such extents anywhere else.

The only other project I can think of that envelops a listener in atmosphere like this is arguably Darkspace: infinitely colder than Darkthrone, vast and simultaneously claustrophobic all at once. In Blut aus Nord's case however, they bolster that tone with rich and disturbing riffs. Unlike Darkspace, many of the tracks here are individually distinctive. The vaguely melodic resolution in "Our Blessed Frozen Cells", the anxious swirl on "The Howling of God", not to mention the apocalyptic industrial dirge come the album's closing track, "Procession of the Dead Clowns"; all these moments and many more felt like a tortured relief from sanity the first time I heard them, and the effect's never worn off.

I know this band gets a lot of comparisons with Deathspell Omega. Fans of one would probably enjoy the other, sure, but that sort of comparison only goes so far in describing the music itself. Deathspell Omega's intellectualized spiritual blasphemies always made it feel like their chaotic murk had a higher purpose to it. Not helped by the fact this album's lyrics (indecipherable in the mix as it is) have never been released, it's difficult for me to think of The Work Which Transforms God as anything other than incredibly nihilistic in its aims. There is no joy in the music here. There have been times I've listened to this album and noticed myself coming out of it feeling miserable and worn-down. Even the revelatory melodic break in "Our Blessed Frozen Cells" lacks catharsis from the mire. Some people will see that negative emotional response as a bad thing. The Work Which Transforms God was never meant for them, if anyone at all. When I consider myself pretty desensitized to feeling something strongly in music, there's a morbid euphoria in hearing something that kills the spirit like this. Are there other black metal albums that drain the spirit from me like this? I can count them on one hand.

The Work Which Transforms God is excellently written and paced. Its genius, however, lies in the way it nurtures the atmosphere in production and execution. Blut aus Nord represents the best use of programmed drums ever heard in metal. Where I usually see "fake" percussion as a necessary evil at best in black metal, Vindsval uses it to his benefit, to the point where I'm not sure the album would be so great over a real kit. The guitar tone is mechanical but full, and despite echoing the timbres of machines so well in the music, it never once feels sterile. The Work Which Transforms God is what happens when an artist plunges deeper into an atmosphere than most others would dare dream of. Appreciating this cold, life-draining atmosphere shall be reserved for an elect few, while all others look on in bafflement.

 Ultima Thulée by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.06 | 15 ratings

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Ultima Thulée
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars The French black metal band BLUT AUS NORD has always pretty much been the project of Vindsval which began all the way back in 1994 with a couple demos under the Vlad moniker being released, but soon after the name of the project was changed to the grammatically incorrect German phrase meaning "Blood From North." On this debut album Vindsval handles all vocal and guitar duties but he also employs the percussive and keyboard skills of W.D. Feld, so this debut is more or less a duo rather than a solo project. ULTIMA THULÉE (a term that denotes any place beyond the known borders of the world in medieval geography) finds Vindsval and Feld riding the second wave of Norwegian black metal like a gazillion other bands of the era. Before BLUT AUS NORD cemented itself as more of a real band project and before the extremely avant-garde jangly and nightmarish atmospheric dissonance that the band would become famous for, we get a couple of more or less standard second wave black metal releases.

This debut sounds to me a lot like early Enslaved meets Darkthrone with the aggressive guitar delivery complete with blastbeats, gnarly tortured shrieks and muddy lo-fi production with only meagre progressive leanings. The band's knack for atmospheric embellishments also begins here and includes lots of scary keyboards however on this one they haven't quite found their unique niche and sound a lot like early Burzum especially from the "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" and "Filosofem" era. The album flows fairly well throughout its entirety and despite not dripping in originality is quite competently performed and a decent listen that i personally find appealing. Of course, this album gets overlooked for the very reason of not holding a candle to the more sophisticated developments which begin on "The Mystical Best Of Rebellion" but ULTIMA THULÉE is a solid black metal release that lovers of atmospheric black metal with heavy doses of dark ambient and dungeon synth should check out and is an interesting chapter of this unique band's musical history. 3.5 rounded down

 What Once Was... Liber II by BLUT AUS NORD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2012
4.00 | 1 ratings

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What Once Was... Liber II
Blut Aus Nord Experimental/Post Metal

Review by CassandraLeo

— First review of this album —
4 stars The What Once Was series (which shares a name with infamous black metal band Burzum's second album) is self-styled as Blut aus Nord's 'back to basics' series of EPs, intended to throw in some old-school death metal influence into their unusual mix of black metal, industrial, and progressive metal. For all that it's intended to be more primitive, the series still throws the band's signature odd time signatures and dissonance everywhere, and it's still unmistakably the work of Blut aus Nord.

Of the three releases in the series thus far (more are evidently planned), Volume II is probably the strongest. It's also likely to be the most interesting to fans of progressive metal, what with the nine-and-a-half-minute opening track (the longest track on any of these releases to date). The other tracks are quite solid as well, especially the last one, which to my estimation has one of the best riffs on any Blut aus Nord release (right up there with the riff in Memoria Vetusta II's 'The Formless Sphere').

The release still has the odd textures, tremolo picking, blast beats, harsh vocals, and warped dissonance one would expect from any of the band's non-Memoria Vetusta/Ultima Thulee releases, so black metal-phobic fans are forewarned. It may also be difficult for people who don't own a vinyl player to track down a digital recording of this release, because there isn't an official one (although vinyl rips do circulate the internet). But for those who are open to such things, there is quite a bit of enjoyable listening to be found here.

Thanks to The T for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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