Blut Aus Nord bring ‘777’ trilogy to close with melodically bizarre ‘Cosmosophy’

When Blut Aus Nord announced a three-album “777” project last year, all to culminate in the calendar year 2011, I grew concerned. That’s a lot of material, and considering it all hadn’t been recorded yet, the chances of the goal being achieved seemed dubious at best. And if the mark was met, how good would it really be since they were cranking out a lot of material in a short time span?

Well, here we are a year and a half after the first installment “777-Sect(s)” was released, and we’re finally on the third of the series. Maybe they overshot when they declared they’d have all three albums out in 2011, but I’m glad Blut Aus Nord took their time. The French experimental black metal band including visionary, vocalist, guitarist Vindsval, bassist GhÖst, and drummer/programmer W.D. Feld, instead spread out their bleak, dark visionary design, that examines humankind’s place in the universe, what happens when one is separated from deities, and the aftermath of the (positive?) chaos, and took their time with the music. That was a good move, as this has been a great series.

“Sect(s)” is the most immediate, classic black metal release of the trio — and I mean “classic” in the sense that it applies to this band — whereas November’s “The Desanctification” played more with atmospherics, studio trickery, and foggy trip-hop influences that intertwined with their violent, more savage tendencies. It was a step up in progression and risk-taking from “Sect(s),” not to mention the rest of the band’s collection, and it is concluding now that “Cosmosophy” finally has arrived. If you were unsettled by the difference and total weirdness of “The Desanctification,” then get ready to be knocked on the floor, but the story capper is like nothing you’ve heard from Blut Aus Nord ever before. And knowing how this band constantly shapes and shifts, you may never hear sounds like these from this band ever again.

Most of what you’ll hear on “Cosmosophy” isn’t really true black metal. In fact, it’s hard to classify what it even is. It’s dreamy, dissonant, shadowy, and ultimately, as the title indicates, cosmic. It’s a bizarre finale to this trilogy, but one that feels right. It seems to achieve a sense of universal and human balance, a weird calming that you arrive at after the terror of isolation. The answers are within you, and the only way you can progress is to tap into that knowledge. If it sounds like the lack of true, horrific black metal won’t appeal to you, please don’t dismiss this. To do so will rob you of one of the most thought-provoking, inquisitive, astonishing albums in metal this year. No other band will be able to claim a document sounding even close to this one.

Like the two “777” chapters that came before, all the songs on “Cosmosophy” are named “Epitome” followed by a Roman numeral. We kick off with the 14th song of the series, so it’s “Epitome XIV” and its melodic, dissonant tones, odd, nearly gothic clean singing, eerie ambiance, and overall weirdness. It has such bizarre appeal and really hooks you into what’s next. “Epitome XV” gets even stranger, with crackling synth lines, dialog delivered in French that is damn-near like a rap, some calls back to the more trip hop moments of “The Desanctification,” and a pit of darkness. Finally on “Epitome XVI” do we finally have something that resembles black metal, as a vortex of horror and piercing growls erupt from an otherwise mournful, synth symphonic piece.

“Epitome XVII” starts off like a rock-oriented song, with a more approachable style and something one might expect to find on the Dead Can Dance pockets of “120 Minutes.” It has a pure post-rock feel, with some wholly emotional guitar work, and eventual dissolution into cleanliness … until sparks fly and the black metal carnage returns again. The off-kilter melodies pick back up, Vindsval’s growls get churning again, and more hellish keyboards simmer anew. Closer and story finale “Epitome XVIII” is full of doom mist and total poisonous gas, as the realizations of the mission strike the heart, and one begins to get the feeling of an out-of-body experience taking place over a charred, dead planet. It feels incredibly empty, yet the heart and mind are full of life after having realized some of life’s great lessons.

I never expected Blut Aus Nord would end this trilogy in such a manner. I have learned not to have anticipation going into this band’s records because they never do the same thing twice. But this is a curve ball like no other, yet it’s one maybe  I should have anticipated. Instead of the story crashing down in an avalanche of power, we got an introspective, crawling-through-time finish. I can only imagine what the next Blut Aus Nord album will sound like, but I imagine it won’t be like this. It’ll be something we’ve never witnessed before.

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