Blut Aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber I review
|Band:||Blut Aus Nord|
|Album:||What Once Was... Liber I|
|Release date:||June 2010|
[Original Vinyl Release]
There are few people who are more impressed by Blut Aus Nord than myself. Even though I still maintain they're at their creative best when pushing the iconoclastic agenda (MoRT, TWWTG) I can still look on with a quiet appreciation of their more conventional works; the progressive melody of MV:II is not something I listen to very often but you'd have to be a fool not to recognise its quality and workmanship, as well as the virtual fan-service it turned out to be. Considering the vast spectrum of their discography the vinyl-only release that is What Once Was... Liber I broadly falls somewhere in the middle of the conventional and experimental.
Right then, what does it sound like? Well, the first basic and formal comparison I can think of would be with Odinist - but don't let that put you off (I know many found Odinist to be boring even though I feel it's a bit underrated). Though tonally similar, instead of Odinist's clean sound, frequent harmony and occasionally slowing pace imagine, if you will, a muddier, slightly raw production stopping just outside the boundaries of "lo-fi" with a decidedly death metal relentlessness and fortitude. While comparisons to early black metal would be deemed appropriate by some, the riff structuring, which are standard Vindsval (and by standard I of course mean uniquely avant-garde) preclude any real relationship to old black metal; they wind and wrap around your brain with an unpredictable belligerence. And while it all appears to be somewhat breathless there's plenty of dark melody, sinister lulls and deep, almost groove-laden guitar and thundering drums which give it the deep, dense atmosphere you've come to expect from the genre's premier envelope-pushers. This is off course vinyl-only and having only listened to the mp3-rip the sound was of course not what it should have been; volume had to be switched right up and the percussion sounded a little strange at times but it's a minor quibble that has no consequence on the final quality.
The ability to fuse primitivism and modernism and still maintain their highly distinctive signature sound is what makes this a winner. It's hard to say which region of the band's fan base (let's be honest, there are few that love all their records, a definite split in camps is something you'll always associate with Blut Aus Nord) this will appeal to. It's quite divergent from everything else they've done, even though it combines a number of elements already in existence in their back catalogue. The fans of the earlier, more typically black metal albums may approve of the fairly consistent and conventional structures (compared to MoRT anyway) but the fanatics who extol the virtues of the experimental pieces could easily find enjoyment in the relentless and primal nature on display. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that it's a very good record and you should try it out regardless of where you stand in respect to the band. </Crap ending>
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