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Blut Aus Nord - The Work Which Transforms God CD (album) cover


Blut Aus Nord


Experimental/Post Metal

4.04 | 19 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'The Work Which Transforms God' - Blut aus Nord (96/100)

Blut aus Nord occupy a completely unique space in my mind. Even in light of their copycats, there's not a single group that shares their particular atmosphere. So many black metal bands try to sound "inhuman" with their music, but how many achieve that impression completely? If we were talking about a more traditional kind of black metal or a Darkclone, that inhumanness would be naturally interpreted as that of a demon, or some evil creature besides. Blut aus Nord takes a very different approach to Otherness, and they're all the more chilling for it. Each time I listen to this band, I get the growing sense that this is what black metal would sound like if it were written by a malevolent AI program. The Work Which Transforms God is the best/worst offender in this respect. Experience of this album lends one of the most striking impressions I've ever felt in black metal: This is the work of a completely non-human entity, or at least someone with the genius vision to bring that effect to life.

In many ways, The Work Which Transforms God is Blut aus Nord's defining album. Vindsval has always stuck fairly close to this industrial-laden, dissonant sound, but every album has weighed certain aspects over others. A more recent BaN record, Saturnian Poetry, was incredibly organic-sounding, and only bears resemblance to this in some of the tones and guitar phrasings. Even so, I never think of Blut aus Nord without thinking of the cold, empty pit they dug for themselves on this one. The Work Which Transforms God is almost entirely defined by its atmosphere, an industrial wasteland-variety sparseness that I've never heard brought to such extents anywhere else.

The only other project I can think of that envelops a listener in atmosphere like this is arguably Darkspace: infinitely colder than Darkthrone, vast and simultaneously claustrophobic all at once. In Blut aus Nord's case however, they bolster that tone with rich and disturbing riffs. Unlike Darkspace, many of the tracks here are individually distinctive. The vaguely melodic resolution in "Our Blessed Frozen Cells", the anxious swirl on "The Howling of God", not to mention the apocalyptic industrial dirge come the album's closing track, "Procession of the Dead Clowns"; all these moments and many more felt like a tortured relief from sanity the first time I heard them, and the effect's never worn off.

I know this band gets a lot of comparisons with Deathspell Omega. Fans of one would probably enjoy the other, sure, but that sort of comparison only goes so far in describing the music itself. Deathspell Omega's intellectualized spiritual blasphemies always made it feel like their chaotic murk had a higher purpose to it. Not helped by the fact this album's lyrics (indecipherable in the mix as it is) have never been released, it's difficult for me to think of The Work Which Transforms God as anything other than incredibly nihilistic in its aims. There is no joy in the music here. There have been times I've listened to this album and noticed myself coming out of it feeling miserable and worn-down. Even the revelatory melodic break in "Our Blessed Frozen Cells" lacks catharsis from the mire. Some people will see that negative emotional response as a bad thing. The Work Which Transforms God was never meant for them, if anyone at all. When I consider myself pretty desensitized to feeling something strongly in music, there's a morbid euphoria in hearing something that kills the spirit like this. Are there other black metal albums that drain the spirit from me like this? I can count them on one hand.

The Work Which Transforms God is excellently written and paced. Its genius, however, lies in the way it nurtures the atmosphere in production and execution. Blut aus Nord represents the best use of programmed drums ever heard in metal. Where I usually see "fake" percussion as a necessary evil at best in black metal, Vindsval uses it to his benefit, to the point where I'm not sure the album would be so great over a real kit. The guitar tone is mechanical but full, and despite echoing the timbres of machines so well in the music, it never once feels sterile. The Work Which Transforms God is what happens when an artist plunges deeper into an atmosphere than most others would dare dream of. Appreciating this cold, life-draining atmosphere shall be reserved for an elect few, while all others look on in bafflement.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |


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