Having recently reissued the classic ‘the mystical beast of rebellion’ album, Blut Aus Nord are back, not only with a new album, but with the first part of a monstrous trilogy that sees their twisted, avant-garde take on black metal bend even further out of shape over the course of six extreme missives from the dark side. 777 Sect(s) is a throbbing, twisted masterpiece that spews forth darkness and noise like discharge form an open wound and the six tracks that make up the album’s Epitome’s are each mini-symphonies in their own right.
Opening track, ‘Epitome 01’ sees the Sonic Youth (via ‘Sonic Death’) style experimentation inform a guitar-blizzard attack that steers just clear of a maelstrom of noise before slowing down to a crawl that will be familiar to all those who checked out the companion disc to ‘the mystical beast…’ and then heading off in whole new direction with guitars flowing over you like so many streams of rotten blood while tormented screams haunt your every waking hour. And that’s just the first track. As the guitars fade away a pulsing bass is left in the darkness and suddenly you’re listening to the eerie ambient dub of post black-metal Ulver and you wonder just how this band are capable of such feats of grotesque imagination. It’s a magnificent, awe-inspiring, chilling start to an album that grabs you instantly and refuses to let go until you’ve completed its brutal, yet satisfying death trip in full. ‘Epitome 02’ veers off in another direction entirely with melancholy guitars backed by electronic percussion hinting at a post rock edge in the vein of Windmills in the sky or Isis rather than the unsettling avant-blackness of the first track. It’s a majestic , surreal, blackened trip deep into one band’s nightmare and it is impossible not to follow. The guitars flow with a crushing might while the drums are recorded and produced to perfection and played with a sombre restraint that serves the music rather than personal ambition. It is a huge track; an epic sonic attack that sounds as if it should be played in the halls of great emperors as the minions go about their business and there is no doubting the intelligence and ambition that powers Blut Aus Nord these days.
‘Epitome 3’ draws a veil over the eerie majesty of its predecessor and returns to spiralling guitars in a vortex of snatched beats and torn screams. Like a hurricane of noise, it is a frozen, aching track that barely makes sense on first listen and requires boundless patience and listens before the fractal patterns align and begin to make sense. It’s a massive, densely layered track and impossible to absorb all in one go, much like the album as a whole, and you wonder how Blut Aus Nord intend to follow this masterstroke, let alone better it. Eerie, dark and atmospheric it is simply awe-inspiring and there is no way to approach this album other than to utterly submit to the forces within the music. ‘Epitome 4’ continues the previous tracks blackened riffs and adds a touch of Meshuggah’s stress-inducing time signatures for good measure. The vocals, meanwhile, are a blackened smear – barely audible above the exceptionally heavy music underpinning them and serving to provide atmosphere and intent rather than a clear representation of the lyrics. Blindingly atmospheric, the vocal lines are uncomfortable listening and could be torn from the very gates of hell as from a human mouth and they augment the eerie wonder of the track perfectly, particularly with the symphonic keyboard elements adding a degree of sweetness to an otherwise unbearably bleak track. ‘Epitome 5’, following on from such a crushing and lengthy track (4 is almost twelve minutes in length) takes a more aggressive stance with pummelling drums backing a discordant guitar riff that is the aural equivalent of having your molars removed with a pair of industrial pliers. As unpleasant and inhuman as you can ever imagine black metal getting, there is not an inch of commercial sense or pandering to the crowd in sight – this is Blut Aus Nord’s personal masterpiece and if you don’t like it, they hardly expect or want you to come along for the ride. The sixth, and final, Epitome closes the album in grand style with the same sense of unrelenting machinery being used to grind down your senses and the hope and light slowly being forced from your existence as the blackness washes over you. Impressive and utterly devoid of humanity it closes the album with the promise of great things to come in the sequel and it’s an impressive feat indeed that the band have created such an epic and unforgiving sounscape within one gloriously blackened record.
In 777 Sect(s), Blut Aus Nord have created a near flawless album which needs to be absorbed as a whole rather than split into its component parts. The sheer scope of what the band are currently recording is nothing short of awes-inspiring and the vision and depth that they have lent to the album impossible to ignore. With only six tracks on offer, Blut Aus Nord have approached the album with a single-minded clarity of purpose and perfectionism that means that nothing is wasted and everything has a part in the greater scheme of the record. There is no light here, only darkness and sorrow but ultimately it is a hypnotic darkness that will drag you back over and over again to witness it’s utter subjugation of the light and fans of avant-garde black metal will go into dizzy fits just thinking about this exceptional piece of work. Utterly monumental in every conceivable way – 777 Sec(s) is a masterpiece.