Blut aus Nord - Hallucinogen (2019)Release ID: 12871
This a gorgeous sounding atmospheric black metal album that really doubles down on the atmospheric part of its genre definer. The album is called Hallucinogen and it feels like a trip!
For one, the guitar work on this album is a standout. I really like how it is able to effortlessly transition from acting as a melodic instrument to a harmonic one with its tremolo picking patterns. The vocals, while not incredibly great or prominent, do serve their purpose. They feel like an afterthought, but the clean singing sections are sung with a very slow, brooding feel, almost like a religious hymn. The harsh vocals are sparse but effective. The foundation provided by the percussion and bass does its job and emphasizes the low end extremely well. The mixing of the percussion is top notch, not allowing the almost mechanical double bass work to clip in the mixing, while still being prominent enough that you will notice it.
This is a great little project that can be appreciated by many. Definitely one of 2019's sleeper albums IMO.
Blut aus Nord are one of those bands who seem to attract a lot of pretentious twaddle, but the simple fact is that they are a very accomplished black metal band who like to develop their sound, are unafraid to incorporate influences from outside the BM world and don't like to stand still. This album seems to have ruffled a few feathers, being a bit more accessible than a lot of BaN's material, but f**k that, this is a damn fine melodic, atmospheric, black metal album with some psychedelic influences (although not too much) even featuring some nice choral moments. The music is soaring and sweeping and the production is spot on. Sure it is superficially akin to a number of modern atmo-black releases, but the sheer songwriting and technical superiority of the band are evident from the get-go, elevating this far above the general BM hoi-polloi.
BAN are at the point in their discography where they can basically release anything they want and nobody would bat an eyelid. Despite all manner of atmospheric BM, industrial influences and progressive stylings being present throughout their history, for "Hallucinogen" the group have somewhat managed to go back to basics. It is hard to listen through this and not think of "Memoria Vetusta" era BAN. The melodies are so crisp and clear, the riffs infectious as opposed to just abrasive and the vocals so detached it almost like they really wanted to write an instrumental record.
There's a huge amount to take in here still. In spite of the cleaner feel to proceedings it is no less vast in scope. "Hallucinogen" still demands your attention just as much as "MoRT" or "The Work Which Transforms God" does, just for different reasons. The structures that are being built here are simple in appearance yet intricate in delivery, the looping and psychedelic guitar melody to 'Sybelius" is one example of this as it wraps itself around your brain, clinging there for days.
The dreamy and slow picked start to 'Anthosmos' soon breaks to become a positively inter-stellar melodious affair as it builds and transforms itself into a central piece de resistance of the album. For the more traditional BM fan there's still the rampant aggression of 'Mahagma' to whet the appetite but this too relies heavily on dreamy and psychedelic vocals to give it edge.
BAN continue to be a challenging listen with each new record and at the same time manage to remain relevant and always attached to their roots at the same time.