Blut Aus Nord
777: The Desanctification

Blut Aus Nord’s Memoria Vetusta II is one of my favorite black metal albums of all time – an odyssey both terrifying and graceful, with masterful compositions that flow as much as they rage. So when I heard that Blut Aus Nord’s next releases would be an epic trilogy, I was naturally very excited to hear if would they top that amazing release.

Unfortunately, 777 Sect(s), released earlier this year, proved to be a far different beast than I was expecting. Rather than push the band forward, it seemed like a step back towards the droning, ambient work heard on mid-career releases like The Work Which Transforms God, Thematic Emanation of Archetypal Multiplicity and MoRT. Granted, those were terrific experiences, and Sect(s) did strip away the industrialized grime to reveal a purer black metal (but no less discordant) palette, but from a compositional standpoint, I had been hoping for a more enveloping journey rather than just dull, oppressive gloom.

Now, half a year later, the second chapter has dropped, and although it’s essentially more of the same – ritualistic and hypnotic – at least Vindsval and his cohorts have injected more melody and ethereal mystery into the mix, which makes this a more dynamic listen than Sect(s), but it’s still far less engaging than MVII or Odinist. Once again, the album is composed of 7 tracks named “Epitomes VII – XIII” (guess what the tracks on the next album will be called?), and they are meant to be taken in as one unbroken, monolithic experience. The tempo throughout these tracks never strays above a miserable trudge, anchored by a vaguely industrial beat (think Scorn or other 90s industrial/ambient acts), but it’s the melodies and contrast which keep your attention here.

Most songs plod and wander along with a discordant jangle of guitars, steady drumming and muttered, snarled vocals, and then suddenly, all of that fades away to glide into an ethereal interlude of warmer tones, keys and reverent chanting. These moments, which occur fairly evenly throughout the album (“Epitomes VIII and X” offer high points), come off more like transcendental epiphanies than just simple compositional variance – and given the album art and the trilogy’s ritualistic presentation, that’s an appropriate analogy.

Meditating on the void, pressing up against some barely sensed barrier to another world, and then the veil shifts like a curtain for just a moment, letting otherworldly color bleed in before the gloom stains your view once more. Get yourself into that kind of imaginative mindset, and The Desanctification can be a nicely rewarding listen – much more so than Sect(s), in any case.

The progression from Sect(s) to Desanctification also leaves me more hopeful for Part III, the Cosmosophy, which drops in early 2012. Given the evolution of melody from the uglier first part of the trilogy to the more transcendental second, I expect Part III to bring back even more of the majesty I loved so much from Memoria Vetusta II. I still expect the same tempos and ritualistic drone to provide structural continuity, but if Blut Aus Nord can build on them to deliver a stunning climax, then I think my feelings on 777 as a whole will change over time. It will become one long symphony of Epitomes with a clear thematic and narrative arc, and will stand as another terrific achievement in a discography filled with impressive releases. However, if it truly is just more of the same, then I’ll write the whole thing off an an exercise in indulgence, and patiently wait for MVIII.

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Written by Jordan Itkowitz
December 9th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: legumbrera

    I agree with you about “Memoria Vetusta II”. I also liked a lot more this one, than Sect(s) too!! Nice review


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    man, I loved Sects…


  3. Commented by: GW

    Another atmospheric snoozefest that goes nowhere. This is marginally better than Sects, which was a mess.


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