BLUT AUS NORD — The Mystical Beast of Rebellion (review)

BLUT AUS NORD — The Mystical Beast of Rebellion album cover Album · 2001 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
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.
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