PICK OF THE WEEK: Blut Aus Nord wrap strange tentacles around the cosmos with ‘Hallucinogen’

I’ve probably talked way too much about the idea of bands changing and the fact that it’s OK to do so. I’ve likely opened 50 stories saying that, but it’s a theme that keeps coming back with artists as they grow further into the careers and their artistic ambitions get more defined. No, it doesn’t always work, but having that freedom also can result in adventurous works we wouldn’t have otherwise.

French black metal extraterrestrials Blut Aus Nord have been defying convention and expectations for years now. They’ve been one of the leaders in helping their chosen sub-genre grow past knuckle-dragging violence into worlds we’ve not even thought of exploring yet. On their new, 13th record “Hallucinogen,” their minds expand again into strangeness and mental and physical exploration with seven new tracks that are unlike anything the band has created before. It’ll be clear that it’s Blut Aus Nord, as their guitar phrasing and creative DNA are a definitive part of this. But it’s also evident they have advanced yet again from where they were on past recordings, even 2017’s “Deus Salutis Meae,” to a plane even more bizarre for the band—guitarist/vocalist Vindsval, bassist GhÖst, electronic/keyboard master WD Feld, drummer Thorns—where I’m not even sure they’re a part of us anymore. They’ve become different beings, and that band photo might be more realistic than we know.

“Nomos Nebuleam” kicks off this spiraling record that often feels like new regenerations of itself, but don’t take that to mean repetitive. It just sounds of a similar alien body that keeps sending more warped transmissions. Here, the sounds rush in as cool melodies surface and begin a stormfront, followed by a ghostly haze that swallows the detached vocals and deliver them like a dream message. It’s easy to fall into hypnosis as calm arrives, thawing your cells, and disappearing into the void. “Nebeleste” is a manic, twisted fury right off the bat, as black metal entanglement arrives, and vocals not of this world deliver the message. A reflective haze is filtered through strange fluids while colors explode out of that, with the growls buried under its pressure. From there, the leads churn, ending everything in a total assault. “Sybelius” has riffs spreading as the drumming crumbles, while melodies squeeze through a wormhole. Vocals are bellowed and strike the chest, while we’re off to the stratosphere, with the trip interrupted by a changing guitar line. The back end is filled out by echoed drums and chant-like vocals calling.

“Anthosmos” is a frosty giant as it arrives, but then it trickles warmly as guitars rain down, and the vocals penetrate the surface like icy spikes. Thunderous fury is later undercut by solace and cleaner melodies, which gives off some brightness. They keep blinding as the drums push through, bringing everything to an elegant, glowing conclusion. “Mahagma” has utterly glorious lead guitars pushing through the clouds as the ground quakes, and pastoral chants swim up your spine. Later on, the playing is downright euphoric, making your brain chemicals skip a beat, while more chants haunt, and final crunch gives way to a never-ending trance. “Haallucinählia” punches open before strange barks jar you awake, and the guitars gut and swim through the spilling innards. The track feels ghoulish in spots but also jarringly violent before slipping into a strange fog that is a tunnel for the track’s fiery ending once it re-awakens. “Cosma Procyiris” ends the journey by soaring through ether, trudging into view, and then easing for a stretch. Then, a numbing assault arrives, pushing your body all around, blasting past the stars and into strange passageways never before explored. The pace then chugs again, spewing rock and dust, bringing about a dose of mystical chaos before the track comes to a smearing, abrupt end.

Blut Aus Nord’s journey never goes where you expect it to, and the music on “Hallucinogen” is a product of species operating above our understanding. Even after 25 years together, where you’d think they’d exhausted their creative energies, they prove that their tank is limitless, and there are plenty more corners of the universe for them to inhabit. The fact this record is so stimulating and spellbinding hints that perhaps this is just the first step toward an insanely dark beyond.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Vindsval.official/

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://debemurmorti.aisamerch.com/band/blut-aus-nord

Or here (International): https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/32-blut-aus-nord-shop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/