BLUT AUS NORD — The Work Which Transforms God (review)

BLUT AUS NORD — The Work Which Transforms God album cover Album · 2003 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
BLUT AUS NORD which began as the one-man band formed by Vindsval, was hardly anything out of the ordinary as this Mondville act from France joined a new legion of second wave black metal acts as they copied the likes of Darkthrone and Emperor while Scandinavia, particularly Norway was headquarters for the new depraved musical scene that was exploding onto the world’s stage. While starting out as a typical but satisfying atmospheric black metal band with the two 90s albums “Ultima Thulée” and "Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age,” with Vindsval’s third attempt after working on other projects and focusing on BLUT AUS NORD, “The Mystical Beast of Rebellion” displayed that the French scene was taking the black metal scene to a new level with more intellectual subject matter as well as hitherto unthinkable experimental approaches that rankled the sensibilities of those stuck on the gerbil wheel of orthodoxies where many black metal purists find themselves stuck.

While the 20th century was clearly dominated by the Scandinavians, the 21st century saw French acts like Deathspell Omega, Peste Noire and Nehëmah transmogrifying the incessant brutality of the second wave into a more mysterious and even frightening leap of ingenuity. BLUT AUS NORD was one of the pioneers in this ascension of quality that added more progressive and experimental elements to the discordant angst and bombast of the 90s black metal scene. BLUT AUS NORD became a bona fide band in the 21st century with Vindsval on guitars and vocals along with GhÖst on bass and W.D. Feld on drums and keyboards. While “The Mystical Beast of Rebellion” pointed a new direction for BLUT AUS NORD to take, the following THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD was the moment when the band hits its stride and struck a balance between traditional black metal, progressive rock and atmospheric experimentation which found a greater emphasis on both dark ambient and industrial textures.

The popularity of this album corresponded with the band signing on to a bigger record label. The band caught the attention of Candlelight Records and was immediately signed which resulted in the ability to craft an even more dynamic range of black metal possibilities and the ability to be exposed to a much larger audience. While a few brave black metal bands like Ved Buens Ende, Ulver and Dødheimsgard had delved into more avant-garde black metal expressions, most of these bands found little success until the French scene raised the expectations and crafted a more sophisticated expression of the grim brutal sounds that black metal had conjured up from dark forces. As a result of a label shift and a leap in artistic growth, BLUT AUS NORD launched itself with the intricate ugliness presented on THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD which weaved the black metal orotundity with a psychedelic soup of dark ambient sounds, industrial backdrops and avant-garde methodologies peppered with off-kilter progressive time signature shifts and hypnotic death marches into a gravity-free abyss.

One of the most prominent features of this particular new wave of French black metal is the use of extreme dissonance that are interlaced with thick heavy atmospheres fortified with echoey delayed feedback, hypnotic looped rhythms and the use of eerie creepy tempos that find ghostly vocals reaching out from the void. The final track titled “Procession Of The Dead Clowns,” adequately sums up the entire experience of THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD with jittery guitar riffs, suffocating atmospheric cloud covers and steady marches into the unknown. While very different than much of the 90s black metal scene, BLUT AUS NORD retained the tremolo guitar rampages, growled raspy vocals and occasional blastbeat drumming that despite emanating from drum machines doesn’t sound out of place in this lifeless sonic zone.

While much of 90s black metal can come off as a one-dimension tritone fascination that focuses on anti-Christian rants or misanthropic outrage, BLUT AUS NORD tackled more esoteric wisdom that while not discernible by the vocals are clearly expressed in the track titles, a trait that would become popular as occult theologies became the focus of thematic explorations over mindless juvenile angst. Godflesh obviously played a huge role in influencing the creepy crawly industrial tracks however BLUT AUS NORD crafted a unique musical vision that set itself apart from the legions of second wave imitators. Laced with a plethora of unsettling sounds that accompany the ceaseless plodding of drums and riffs, THE WORK WHICH TRANSFORMS GOD sounds as if it’s a musical world that drifts in and out of our dimensional reality as tunings veer slightly out of tune and back in an oscillating undulating wave of dissonance and even more dissonance. The hypnotic nature of the album finds mid-tempo stomps creepily infiltrated by weird squeals, screeches and psychedelic ooze. All in all, this is a masterful display of musical darkness wrapped in a metaphysical display of esoteric wisdom. A triumphant expression of the dark arts in music form.
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