Blut Aus Nord, P.H.O.B.O.S. join forces for cosmic terror with dream state-inducing ‘Triunity’

BAN PHOBOSWhen two of metal’s strangest, most shadow-casting forces come together to offer up creations on the same collection, you have no choice but to sit back and hear the magic unfold. That’s the best advice I can offer for encountering “Triunity,” the new split record that brings together Blut Aus Nord and P.H.O.B.O.S.

Both entities call France home, and as we’ve said time and time again when it comes to that country, the water must be infected because of some of the strange transmissions that come from there. Both groups have made some pulverizing, thought-provoking music over the years, with Blut Aus Nord taking the dream-inducing lanes of the black metal highway to come up with their work, and P.H.O.B.O.S. driving industrial drone fires and engines for their abrasive creations. Yet both sides have their adventurous tendencies, and while they might sound terribly alike sonically, you can tell they meet somewhere in the middle of their art. That’s part of what makes this record work so well. The other is the music that has both bands sounding haunting and penetrating.

Blut Aus Nord have been plenty busy since their birth in 1994, creating 10 albums, the most recent three comprised the incredible concept “777” trilogy. Over the years, the band, led by Vindsval, hasn’t been afraid to add various non-black metal elements into the music, such as trip hop, electronics, and even industrial strains, and 2012’s “Cosmosophy” turned out to be one of the great artistic triumphs in the band’s career. But if you were one of those who couldn’t help but fret their sound has changed and become a little easier to digest, their three cuts here will ease your mind, you big baby. P.H.O.B.O.S. began as a full band in 2000, taking cues from groups such as Godflesh and Voivod, before slowly whittling down to Frederic Sacri for the band’s 2005 debut record “Tectonics.” As time went on, the band’s machine-like sound grew darker and more ominous, as “Anœdipal” arrived in 2008, and “Atona Hypermnesia” followed in 2012. Now, for this record, Sacri worked with James Plotkin on these three suffocating songs that match Blut Aus Nord’s mind-warping sound nicely.

Blut Aus Nord get started with “De Librio Arbitrio,” a song that opens with eerie keys and a hazy environment. It picks up on a tempo it is hesitant to let go, drubbing and smoldering, keeping you running in place. Strange noises erupt, the vocals slip into cosmic growls, and there’s a slight industrial edge to the song that makes the cut a little gritty. “Hubris” runs along a similar path as the first song, even drumming up a melody that sounds like it shares the same DNA. The vocals sound like they are delivered by a ghoul floating through space, perhaps being filtered through a Vocoder, and then the guitars charge up hard. The song is similar to what we heard on the second helping of the “777” series “The Desanctification,” and Vindsval spills more animalistic growls over everything. “Nemeinn” finishes off Blut Aus Nord’s contributions, and it’s a total mind warp with heavy crunch, creaky vocals, and a tempo that pushes along dreamily. Eventually there is some rumbling, as the track has the feel of a classic Blut Aus Nord track at times, and the stormy piece eventually subsides. This song gives serious hope for what’s ahead on the band’s upcoming new record, the third installment of “Memoria Vetusta.”

P.H.O.B.O.S. kick off with “Glowing Phosphorous” that emits weird noises, some trippy ambiance, and eventually heavy industrial pounding you’ve come to expect from this project. The track also blasts off into the stars, making it a great companion for the Blut Aus Nord cuts, and it is a strange, ominous piece to behold. “Transfixed Golgotha” is quite trancey and could have you doing the million-mile stare. The song and the playing feel machine-like, but not without heart, and the stretch of this thing is cool and mesmerizing. I kept going back to this one because it slips into the bloodstream so willingly. The last P.H.O.B.O.S. entry is “Ahrimanic Impulse Victory” with talky vocals, more ghoulish sounds that haunt, and a pace that remains steady but penetrating over its running time. Some growls emerge, and some cool blips rise up, drumming up Sacri’s own trip-hop tendencies. The cut eventually fades into black, giving enormous hope for what’s ahead for this band.

“Triunity” is a wholly pleasing, mentally involved journey that should engage the more ambitious, experimentally inclined listeners. For fans of both bands, you’ll be hard pressed to find any complaints since both remain loyal to their traditional traits but also push forward into new terrain. These bands sound like they were meant to inhabit the same corner of the universe, even if sonically their respective DNA remains mostly different.

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