CD Review: BLUT AUS NORD – 777 - Sect(s)
Blut Aus Nord walk a path of relentless evolution. If you've traveled this road with them, you're certain to have an open mind and an appreciation for the stranger recesses of black metal. 777 – Sect(s) is an album whose allure is undeniable but difficult to grasp. If you described it to me on paper, I'd most likely walk away baffled. Insert it into my ears, however, and these awry tunes make perfect sense.
777 – Sect(s) exudes a deliberate patience and zen calm while transmitting volumes of aural execration. Some tracks are delivered with extreme dispatch (“Epitome 1” and “Epitome 3”), but blastbeaten speed is not the band's modus operandi on this album. These songs move with a measured, moderate and mid-paced step, sounding for all the world like a black metal chain-gang breaking rocks on the side of the road to hell. Arpeggiations both alien and subtly simple give 777 – Sect(s) the pulsing, grand and expansive feel of a post-apocalyptic movie soundtrack.
When the band turn on the speed, guitar lines rise and fall in a manic game of shoots and ladders. Melodies slither and twist with the anomalous, sliding, chromatic ooze we expect from Blut Aus Nord. For the most part, though, caustic riffs walk, stride and stroll in all manner of gaits, producing a dissonant, diverse death march. At the core of this martial spirit is an enthralling rhythmic display; the drumming is miraculous and absurd. I can't consistently discern if these beats are programmed or human, but it matters little in the end. 777 – Sect(s) just moves, and its industrial cadence demands that I move along with it.
The album is a definite departure from its predecessor. Memoria Vetusta II was concerned with vast, psychedelic harmonies, and that effort feels diffuse when compared to the focused, exacting sound of 777 – Sect(s). This stylistic direction shouldn't come as a surprise to a long-time listener of the band. MoRT displayed some of the same odd, moldering eccentricity, but this newest effort is far more listenable. The new LP also shares in some of the jangly pacing that made The Work That Transforms God so gloriously odd. The riffs on 777 – Sect(s), however, sound more compelling to my ears, sticking primarily to realms of enjoyment rather than mere curiosity.
777 – Sect(s) is filled with incredible nuance. Listeners should expect some of the expertly deployed synthesizers and bits of haunting operatic chant that the band have utilized in the past. Lead guitars add curious and memorable accents, offering a thread of continuity from Memoria Vetusta II. Pieces of unaccompanied, outlandish guitar melody speak not of artistic indulgence, but of a preternatural creativity. The vocals are delivered with a grotesque and satisfying acrimony, often played back in reverse to produce an unsettling atmosphere. The lyrical scraps we are thrown in the album sleeve are printed entirely in French. When translated, the words appear to be cryptic existential axioms, pondering man's confusion in the face of nothingness.
777 – Sect(s) is evidently the first in an upcoming trilogy of albums from Blut Aus Nord. Given the fascinating ideas explored herein, I eagerly await the second and third installments. I would expect nothing more than resolute metamorphosis.