Starting back in the early ‘90s, Blut Aus Nord exists in two intersecting realities. Their earlier releases, which includes the first part of the Memoria Vetusta trilogy (a trilogy so far, I guess it might be extended), showcased an atmospheric black metal band, in the vein of acts such as Norwegian black metal legends Emperor. But soon enough, Blut Aus Nord decided to take a turn and walk down more experimental and sickening paths. The Work Which Transforms God first introduced the dark ambient and industrial influences of the French act and MoRT, which followed three years later, capitalized on that aspect of the band. Still the ultimate offering from Blut Aus Nord in their more experimental side would come in 2011, and it would be the 777 trilogy. In those three albums, Blut Aus Nord, dived much deeper and without anything holding them back to the true darkness of their music.
But what has baffled me so much about the band is not the evolution of their music, but their ability to maintain a high level of songwriting no matter in which style they were playing. Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars followed the likes of MoRT and Odinist - The Destruction of Reason by Illumination and the band seemed not only to be returning to their earlier sound, but to also be releasing a high quality black metal. Then they decide to go back and dedicate the next few years to the 777 trilogy, finishing it off with Cosmosophy in 2012. And now you say what? Memoria Vetusta III: Saturnian Poetry has arrived and the band releases a great album of high quality black metal, leaving behind their dark ambient sound. When they are playing black metal, they are awesome. When they go and throw at us full blown avant-garde industrial/dark ambient hybrid albums, they nail it. Can they actually go wrong?
Saturnian Poetry is an intense assault. From the moment the intro of the album seizes and its ambiance washes out, Blut Aus Nord show no mercy. In “Paien” they are just trying to knock your teeth out, while in other instances their sound seems to reaching an almost frantic state, as is the case with “Tellus Mater” and the closing track, “Clarissima Mundi Lumina.” But despite this ruthless aggression, the album itself does contain so many awe-inspiring melodies on the guitars, giving it a great contrast. “Paien” on its own showcases that perfectly. And there are so many different feelings that the band can awaken with their music. The eerie sensation in the second half “Paien” and especially with that lead part beneath the main melodies is just ridiculous. On the other hand, Blut Aus Nord is able to reach great expressive depth in many instances of Saturnian Poetry. In the first part of “Forhist” that much is obvious. While, in other instances, the guitar work starts to affect you in a much deeper level, as is the case with the circling phrases of “Henosis” and that typhoon of lead parts that is swirling all over the place.
The lead work that the band has put in Saturnian Poetry is nothing short of astounding. And they way that their songwriting progresses through those lines is just outstanding, with some examples being “Tellus Mater,” as a whole, no question about that, and “Metaphor of the Moon,” especially its first half. But that does not mean that Blut Aus Nord do not have their trademark twisted moments in this album. The darker tones of “Telus Mater” bring despair and the twisted vision of the band comes up in all its glory in songs such as “Henosis” and “Metaphor of the Moon.” And the way that the melodic synths collide with the dissonant guitar lines in the beginning of the closing track is just monumental, offering a great moment of sonic dissonance.
What has also improved here is the production for the band. Compared to the production of their earlier black metal albums there has been much improvement and in this case they pull through with flying colors; bringing together greatly the different elements of their music and making sure you get the full impact of their sound. The drums especially are sounding great and the addition of Thorns (also member of Acherontas) has been spot on. His complex concepts and restless performance creates a strong backbone for the music of Blut Aus Nord. Especially in “Forhist” and “Clarissima Mundi Lumina,” which include constant changes, he manages to retain the feeling and the vibe of the songs intact, which in its own is a great accomplishment.
The vocals on the other hand are slightly buried under the music, which in my opinion works quite nicely. Especially with the harsher vocals that decision seems to benefit the band, since if they were on the foreground they might get in the way of the music rather than be part of it. The performance of course is nothing less than great. With extreme vocals, near the ending of “Forhist” and in the beginning of “Metaphor of the Moon,” spitting pure malice and also big clean vocal performance in places, forging a more majestic background. Especially in the first two minutes of the closing track, the clean vocals work amazing for Blut Aus Nord, as they do also in “Henosis.”
For a band to be able to split its attention between two different paths and excel in both of them, seems almost impossible. That does not seem to be a problem for Blut Aus Nord though releasing a stellar black metal album, filled with everything you love about the genre. By the way, the cover of the album was designed by Necrolord, who has designed the artwork for albums such as In The Nightside Eclipse from Emperor, and Dissection’s monumental record, Storm of the Light’s Bane. It somehow seems fit that Blut Aus Nord should be in the same company as these great black metal acts, and now they also are connected through the artwork of Necrolord.
8.9 / 10
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