Review Summary: The three men under the pseudonyms Vindsval, W.D. Feld, and GhÖst have disturbed, shocked, and utterly horrified me, and for that they get major props.
Blut aus Nord:
Vindsval - vocals, guitars
W.D. Feld - drums, electronics, and keyboards
GhÖst - bass guitar
Blut aus Nord, though by no means well-known, have gained attention in the underground black metal scene. Their debut, Ultima Thulée was already an exceptional piece of black metal. However, with The Work Which Transforms God, a concept album without any listed lyrics, Blut aus Nord take the black metal genre and completely warp it into their own sick, twisted little creation.
The album starts off with "End," a two minute long track of nothing but eerie ambient noise and the occasional feeble sound of a bell in the background. It more or less sets the mood for the entire album.
"End" runs straight into "The Choir of the Dead," one of the highlight tracks of the album. It starts off fast with furious blast beats from the drums and a bloodcurdling dissonant tone from the guitar. Combined with Vindsval's tortured shrieks, this is easily one of the creepiest tracks ever recorded. It ends with a minute of the same bell ringing sound heard in "End," only much louder.
"Axis" begins in much the same way as "The Choir of the Dead," except with the faintest trace of something absent in the latter, melody. This is probably the most unsettling track on the album as Vindsval's vocals and the bleakness of the guitar mixed in with small samples of melody in the background provide a haunting atmosphere that few bands can say they have achieved.
The next track, "The Fall," provides the same sort of atmosphere as the opener "End." Here Blut aus Nord uses a sample of the sound of howling wind, making the listener feel isolated from everything.
On "Metamorphosis" the guitars stand out a lot more than on the previous tracks, and the vocals do not seem to be emphasized as much. W.D. Feld proves that he can do more than the average black metal drummer as here he plays more to keep the beat for Vindsval's guitars instead of playing furious blast beats. The guitars are bleak as always and carry through this track keeping the listener in the same isolated atmosphere as represented on "The Fall."
"The Supreme Abstract" is an excellent title for this next song, as the feeling of this track is very much abstract. The guitars here are mostly drowned out by W.D. Feld's blast beats and Vindsval's shrieks from before have changed into more zombie-like moans. It leaves it up to the listener's imagination to determine the meaning of this track.
"Our Blessed Frozen Cells" is, along with the final track, the main highlight of the album. Here Vindsval uses a more deep guttural type growl with the same bleak as always dissonant guitars, except here the reverb really shows through. Blut aus Nord have also incorporated samples of howling that cuts in through the guitars and really adds a haunting element to the song. About halfway through, the song takes an unexpected turn. After a moment where all the instruments are silent and only the samples of howling wind can still be heard, every instrument bursts into an ensemble of one of the most beautiful, haunting melodies ever recorded in metal. This melody then continues for the rest of the song.
After their melodic opus, Blut aus Nord plunge the listener straight back into their twisted horror movie world with "Devilish Essence." It is another of their industrial tracks that relies on a mix of eerie piano and sampled moaning in the background.
The creepiness of the previous track continues right into "The Howling of God," which starts with W.D. Feld's blast beats and a repeated riff from Vindsval. Vindsval changes his vocal style once again in favor of a more Attila Csihar sounding gurgle. About a minute into the song Vindsval begins to use some of his most tortured sounding shrieks on the album. W.D. Feld constantly changes the beat until going back into the riff with which the song opened. This is the first song where GhÖst's bass actually substantially stands out, and it adds a lot to the eerie, absolute blasphemy of this song.
"Inner Mental Cage" is probably the most industrially influenced song on the album. Numerous moanings and choirs have been sampled over the guitars and, on this particular track, basic drums. In some ways it almost has a Middle Eastern feel to it, while still retaining Blut aus Nord's legendary ghostly atmosphere.
"Density" is nothing more than an eighteen second break before the apex of the album.
The final track, "Procession of the Dead Clowns," while ridiculously named, is quite possibly the best track on the album. People without an open mind will more than likely pass it off as repetitive, but the few riffs used throughout this ten minute opus are quite similar to the last half of "Our Blessed Frozen Cells." The dissonant rhythm guitar combined with GhÖst's booming bass complement the reverb and delay ridden guitar melody to create a truly frightening masterpiece.
While some bands might be stuck producing ridiculous rip-offs and horrendous copies of Transilvanian Hunger over and over again, Blut aus Nord proves that they can bring something new to the metal table. The Work Which Transforms God is nothing short of spectacular and is an essential metal release of the millennium. It is a milestone in something brand new, spanning from the roots of black metal, but it goes far beyond the limitations of the genre. It is definitely worthy of a listen from fans of unusual metal.