Blut aus Nord
About Blut aus Nord
Unlike many bands from Europe's black metal scene, France's Blut aus Nord refute genre clichés in favor of a fluid, idiosyncratic vision of the aesthetic. While they are most often loud, dissonant, intense, and forceful, they can also be also gloomy, haunting, and melodic. Atmosphere is the most important element in their sonic architecture, and they continually employ it by provoking dis-ease through nightmarish, subliminal sounds and messages woven into their compositions. From album to album, Blut aus Nord experiment and evolve through musical research. They utilize anything and everything that will put an idea across, from medieval liturgical music and gothic folk to progressive tenets and industrial electronics. Despite the wide range of textural approaches, Blut aus Nord have always considered themselves a black metal band. Though early albums such as 1995's Ultima Thulée and the following year's Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age won them a small but fanatical fan base, it was 2003's expansive The Work Which Transforms God with its industrial overtones that earned them a global following. 2006's experimental post-ambient MoRT, however, provided the first example of the band confounding fans and critics alike. 2008's Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars and 2014's Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry proved recognizable to both after following the conceptual and stylistic variances of the 777 trilogy. The band paid no mind; their vision focused inward, they rigorously refused to adhere to expectations. While 2018's Deus Salutis Meæ caused disruption based on an engagement with post-punk, 2019's Hallucinogen, an exercise that connected classic black metal to avant-psychedelia, prog metal, and electronics, served to unite rather than divide fans.
Blut aus Nord is the creation of Vindsval, a singer/guitarist who got the ball rolling in Mondeville, France in 1993. At first, it was known as Vlad -- as in Vlad the Impaler -- and for a few years, Vindsval was more of a project than an actual band. Thanks to technology and a thing called overdubbing, Vindsval was able to record two demos by himself as Vlad (In the Mist in 1993 and Yggdrasil in 1994) and function as a "one-man band" in the studio. After about a year, Vindsval changed his project's name from Vlad to Blut aus Nord, and when labels started showing some interest, Vindsval began to employ some other musicians, gradually turning the project into an actual band. After working with various session players on Blut aus Nord's albums, Vindsval ended up with a regular lineup that consisted of himself on lead vocals and guitar, Ghost on bass, and W.D. Feld on drums and keyboards.
Ultima Thulle, Blut aus Nord's first official full-length album, was released in 1995 on Impure Creation Records (a small French label that later changed its name to Velvet Music International). Subsequent European releases included 1996's Memoria Vetusta I: Fathers of the Icy Age (ICR) and 2002's The Mystical Beast of Rebellion. None of those '90s or early-2000s discs were released in the United States -- they were only sold in North American stores as imports -- but in 2004, Blut Aus Nord finally enjoyed North American distribution when The Work Which Transforms God, which had come out in Europe a year earlier, was released in the U.S. by Candlelight, a British label with an office in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Due to critical and commercial success (relative to black metal, of course), Blut aus Nord's back catalog was reissued in the United States in 2004 and 2005. Beginning with 2005's Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity mini-album, their material became increasingly experimental, relying on layers of textured, industrial, and ambient sounds as well as a more open musical environment. Indeed, 2006's MoRT was considered -- even by many fans -- to leave the realm of black metal entirely and become alternative with its elongated dissonant tones, shimmering backdrops, murky vocals, and deliberate absence of blastbeats. While the album was heralded by many for its innovation, it was considered too far off the beaten path for some.
They furthered their experimental reputation with the decidedly heavier Odinist: The Destruction of Reason by Illumination in 2007 and with 2008's near-progressive Dialogue with the Stars. In 2009, the band re-released Dialogue as a double-disc package with a brand-new record, a follow-up of sorts to Memoria Vetusta I, simply entitled Memoria Vetusta II. Listening to both recordings, it's easy to hear that Blut aus Nord had created a new, all but trademarked form of extreme avant-rock.
The band began to issue experimental EPs in their "Existential Series" that was scheduled to run parallel to their main body of work. The first one, What Once Was - Liber I, initially appeared as a limited edition in 2010. The idea was taken to the next level with a trilogy of album-length recordings set around the number 777. The pummeling 777 Sect(s) (allegedly the long-rumored sequel to The Work Which Transforms God) was issued in April of 2011, followed in November by 777: The Desanctification, a much more atmospheric and ambient -- yet no less blackened -- series entry in November of that year. What Once Was...Liber II appeared in the spring of 2012, as did 777: Cosmosophy, the final chapter of that album series, in October of 2012. The next entry in the EP series, What Once Was...Liber III, was issued in November of 2013, as were the reissues of its first two volumes.
As a next step, the group issued Triunity in June of 2014, a split with French industrial doom metallers P.H.O.B.O.S. In October, Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry arrived on Debemur Morti. The following year saw two separate retrospective volumes called The Candlelight Years. Codex Obscura Nomina, a split album with American blackened death metal band Ævangelist, appeared in the early summer of 2016. BAN's half featured a four-track suite entitled "Sonic Waves (The Sound Is an Organic Matter)." In early 2018, the band released the doomy full-length Deus Salutis Meæ (God of My Salvation). In the fall of 2019, Blut aus Nord issued Hallucinogen, their most melodic and progressive record to date. Despite its wildly experimental nature, fans and critics embraced it uniformly. ~ Alex Henderson