Blut aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God (2003)
I came into "The Work Which Transforms God" having never heard Blut Aus Nord before. My brother & I made a deal that he would review an album of my choice if I did one of his & this was what he chose. I had no idea of what to expect although I'd seen plenty written about the originality & weirdness of this band. But after giving it a few listens I am really glad I gave this a go because most of it is nothing short of genius.
The album opens with one of three dark ambient tracks spread across the album ("End", "The Fall" & "Devil Essence"). These are really effective & fit in nicely with the overall feel of the album. If anything they enhance the already crushingly dark atmosphere & I could see these pieces sitting comfortably on a "Silent Hill" video game soundtrack.
"The Choir Of The Dead" opens the flood gates & the intensity pours out. I haven't experienced a truly evil black metal atmosphere like this in quite a while. I would describe it as combining the cold, primitive majesty of "Det Som Engang Var"-period Burzum with the experimental beauty of Ved Buens Ende. One of the many highlights, it ends with some chilling church bells. "Axis" continues the black metal onslaught in fine fashion with some serious blastbeats & loads of twisted riffs. It leads into "Metamorphosis" which settles into a more progressive Ved Buens Ende-style sound that is both truly beautiful & very heavy at the same time.
Unfortunately "The Supreme Abstract" is the only real let-down of the album. It is just too twisted, dissonant & messy for my taste. Vocally it sounds like they've gone for an Attila Csihar (Mayhem) moany groany sort of thing but it hasn't worked & doesn't suit the blasting music behind it in my opinion. It just doesn't gel like the rest of the album & it's probably the only thing stopping a five star rating. "Our Blessed Frozen Cells" hits straight back though with a slower, deeper atmosphere that again brings to mind Burzum & also introduces a more industrial Godflesh-like drum style which can be heard on & off throughout "The Work Which Transforms God". After a dark ambient interlude mid-track it sweeps into atmospheric sludge/doom territory with soaring guitar melodies that are quite uplifting.
The intro riff from "The Howling Of God" strongly reminds me of "Transylvanian Hunger"-period Darkthrone which can never be a bad thing in my opinion. There are lots more industrial elements on show here too which are both dissonant & unsettling as well as captivating. Godflesh again comes to mind in the drum loops. "Inner Mental Cage" is truly bizarre & amazing. There is a definite druggy, psychadelic feel & a wall of sound that engulfs the listener as they descend slowly into Hell. It is probably the highlight of the album & will continue to intrigue me for some time yet. Truly original & beautiful! Finally the album ends with a gargantuan mammoth of a doom/sludge epic in "Procession Of The Dead Clowns" with effects-drenched guitar melodies demanding your attention. Immeasurably powerful stuff & a marvelous way to close out the album!
Overall I was blown away by the focus & depth of "The Work Which Transforms God". There is plenty of variety & the album flows surprisingly well when you consider the amount of territory it covers. There is also plenty of variation in the vocaleft me wanting more. I totally recommend this to all open-minded metalheads who don't mind a shudderingly dark atmosphere & a head-fuck or two.
Blut Aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God
Ambiant Cold Stormy Night
Blut Aus Nord has been a name in the metal scene that I've known for a long time. I have checked in on them from time to time and never found anything that I liked before until I listened to the most recent album 2019s Hallucinogen. The boding dark melodies that were on that album honestly made it for one of my favorites of last year though I did just recently listen to it at the end of the year so didn't end up on my best of lists but retrospectively I could probably put it up there. It just fit so well in my opinion. The Work Which Transforms God is very different speed then that, but why shouldn't it be it was made over 15 years ago. Things and people change.
The pros: Any and all of the ambient slow quiet parts are just amazing, you really do feel that cold nightly atmosphere so well.
--End, Our Blessed Frozen Cells, Devilish Essence, Procession of The Dead Clowns
The cons: The bombastic beats in the louder faster parts of songs over these vocals don't grip me. Even for black metal.
--Metamorphosis, The Supreme Abstract, Inner Metal Cage
End starts off perfect. Short but sets a tone going into The Choir Of The Dead I was not expecting. It starts off very loud and explosive, but doesn't stick around too much. Which is my problem in this album, where I can also see why it can be a very well loved album on my 3rd listen since I'm already expecting it. I've already gone in the haunted house and now I know where the chainsaw man starts revving up his engine so it has it's appeal to watch unassuming listeners come in and get frightened out of their skin but his affect on me wears thin quick and looking to hand out with the zombies in the next room.
Axis, nothing memorable with this one. I am listening to this album again and I passed over this song honestly not even realized it played through, must've just transitioned from The Choir really smoothly. The Fall is another wonderfully beautiful ambient track, and smooth and deserted.
Metamorphosis is black metal through and through and the first non true instrumental track that I was starting to enjoy besides the vocals. Feel like they're going for the Mayhem vibe here but it doesn't fit the tone of the song to me so takes me out.
The Supreme Abstract is an interesting one. There's a subtle haunting humming/whispering that I want to enjoy, and if they made an album around that I may have really came around to it more but it really felt out of place on this album. The rest of the album feels like an abandoned farm house from like a Resident Evil game but this song feels more
Our Blessed Frozen Cells / Devilish Essence are probably my longest favorite part of this album. Devilish Essence is an ambient outro for Our Blessed... and is back to being beautiful and as the song titles say almost frozen and a devilish essence.
The Howling Of God, this song alone is Resident Evil 4. Takes me back into that game so hard, I'm just waiting for someone to yell at me in Spanish and chase me. The eeriness of walking around in that game and hearing the odd screeching the people make in that game when you're in the castle and have the monk-like Los Plagas doing their rituals in between running in and out of the wilderness.
Inner Metal Cage after having a good moment with the last song, I come to another song taking me out of the moment. Best I can get is if X-Files had a crossover with a Law&Order-like crime drama. It's not terrible but the guitars get me out of the cold and into a court house where an Alien killed his cheating wife's lover.
Density is 18 seconds of silence? I put my volume on max and didn't hear anything and was perplexed more than anything.
Procession of The Dead Clowns love the name and the song. Ends on a very high note in my opinion. Long, drawn out, and exactly what I want in my black metal.
Overall after listening to this album again while typing this down my rating has gone up a bit. 3 to a 3.5. Still not an amazing album but better then the first few times, I can see this is already a grower on me with the more ambient tracks really making me love those songs but the bad out of place wierdness that is The Choir Of The Dead, The Supreme Abstract, Inner Metal Cage, for me take me too far out. Maybe If I make a playlist with just End, Our Blessed Frozen Cells, Devilish Essence, The Howling Of God, and Procession of The Dead Clowns and play some Resident Evil I would find this to be a perfect night but as a whole this album is not cohesive enough for me.
Another classic release that I get to review for my clan challenge. Like my review for Filosofem this is another mechanised affair that takes some real close attention to get the best from. The album is interspersed with ambient interludes that I normally don't get on with and see as a usual obstacle to the flow of a record but here they work seamlessly. They allow tracks to breathe in and out of the listing either side of them, setting atmosphere perfectly and allowing for subtle infusion of dissonance that is another big factor in the sound of this album.
The whole album gives me the imagery of some giant part-humanoid/part-mechanised beast lumbering, stumbling and stuttering around some cavernous realm. Partially blind but still so very in tune with its surroundings on some other near extra-sensory level. Multiple limbs or feelers bashing against metallic and stone structures, sometimes chaotic as it thrashes around in it's trap giving a more traditional BM feel to the sound, whereas on other occasions much more subtle and measured in the awareness of the surroundings and able to translate this into the ore dissonant and ambient parts of the record.
There's variety here to the sound, with more aggressive moments like Axis and The Supreme Abstract bashing and blasting their way through shorter bursts of energy. At the same time the structure and poise to other tracks allow for an atmospheric and reflective build up using all the discordant, inharmonious and atonal tricks in the book to create fractious and unruly forms that follow no common structure.
This is an album to truly get lost in. There's unexpected pace, time and tone changes that still catch me off-guard despite me having listened to the record on multiple occasions over the years. The sum of all the moving parts is somehow tangible in form and reasoning despite the albums seemingly conscious attempts to be as incongruous as possible. Album closer Procession of the Dead Clowns is one of my all time favourite closing rites to a record, dark, repetitive and smothering at the same time. Brilliant album.