Bizarre voyages with Blut Aus Nord

There are bands whose albums you can’t just pick up cold and expect to understand them right away.

Their work isn’t a matter of verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure or melody or hooks. So why listen? Because not all music is designed to sound the same. Wouldn’t that be utterly boring if everything, no matter the genre, followed the same structure? Hey, maybe some people would be OK with that, hence the blossoming pop music scene at a time when it is most boring. But some artists don’t operate according to the status quo and tend to find enjoyment with branching out to the extreme. That brings us to metaphysically conscious black metal outfit Blut Aus Nord.

The mysterious band hails from France, a place that claims other like-minded bands such as Glorior Belli and Deathspell Omega, but unlike many other black metal bands, they’re not terribly concerned with Satanism and horror and blood. That’s even too stagnant a concept for this band. Their music is nightmarishly disharmonic, and their songs feel more like large tarps that are being dragged over you, with a muted, black-and-white series of seemingly unrelated images shown to you over and over to strike a chord deep within you that you perhaps didn’t know was there. Maybe what you see and hear will make you uncomfortable, like you’re in the middle of a suffocating nightmare, but it’s all a matter of getting out of the ordinary and letting your brain travel and understand more deeply what’s around you.

So yes, it’s black metal, but Blut Aus Nord really sound like no other band because, even as other bands have popped up since and tried to feed off their sound, no one’s done it nearly as convincingly. This leads us into their new album “777-Sect(s),” which is the first of a trilogy (second volume out in September; third follows in November) that will play out over the length of 2011. So yes, there’s way more to come, so we’re just scratching the surface of what’s ahead. The guitars can be vicious and atmospheric at the same time, and often it sounds like all of the leads and melodies are poured on top each other, letting the elements make sense of their place. Vindsval’s vocal emissions act the same, as they’re often buried, sometimes backward (my wife thought a goat was moaning on “Epitome IV,” but alas, it’s all mashed backward), and often are a mix of many, many different tracks blended together, not always smoothly, always interestingly.

“Epitome II” (all the songs are called “Epitome,” followed by a Roman numeral) has gothic style synth, feels like it rushes with air, and growls are buried underneath. Opener “Epitome I” shockingly – or not so shockingly – ends in a bizarre dub step beat and key whirring, and this is after the damaged slurred guitars and gurgling growling seem to indicate you’re headed to the back end of a blast furnace. The final two of the six “Epitomes” are haunting, ghoulish, damaged, and completely freakish. In all, the entire album sounds like one piece with six movements, and I guess that’s really what it is. You can’t drop in on “Epitome III,” for example, and expect to totally understand where you are. And if you’re not familiar with this style or Blut Aus Nord, you may be in for one hell of an education. There’s no guaranteeing you’ll ever get it or accept it, either.

Eight records into their career, Blut Aus Nord certainly have their own identity, and while they have their own style to which they adhere, they never do the same thing twice. Calling it a style isn’t even accurate. It’s more of a headspace, a place where they transcend to create. All of this said, it’ll be interesting to hear the other two pieces of this project and how they compare and contrast with one another. This is one time I do fear they could be overlapping themselves, because three separate pieces in a year is a lot of music, and it’s going to a hell of a challenge keeping all three apart in people’s minds if they don’t have their own, distinct identities. I don’t know yet. I haven’t heard the rest.

If you’re interesting in grabbing this thing, there are some details below. It should be pointed out Debemur Morti also re-released the band’s seminal 2001 album “The Mystical Beast of Rebellion,” which has a second disc of new, complementary material attached. It’s definitely worth your time and cash, as is “777 Sect(s).”

For the label’s site, go here:

For the band’s site, go here:

To buy “777-Sect(s)” or the “Mystical Beast of Rebellion” reissue, go here:

For a track-by-track dissection of the record, go here (it translates into English fairly roughly, but enough that you can make sense of it):