Review Summary: Roots can be so delectable.
Anyone familiar with the genre of black metal has almost always heard of Blut Aus Nord, being a black metal band hailing from the “coldest” regions of France. In fact if you asked several lovers of the genre to name their favorites artist’ you would no doubt come across Blut Aus Nord many times. This is well established due to their incredible foundation of writing some of the best atmospheric, avant-garde black metal to ever exist.
From the inception of their first LP “Ultima Thulee” the listener is taken through several effective emotional textures. Synth laced passages are overridden with fuzzy distorted guitars that build to blistering tempos, all the while preparing its build up only to fall back down again to its slow tempo’d synth atmosphere; this interchange of compliments is the foundation of “Ultima Thulee” as well as its ultimate[play on words] success. Whether a passage is a melodic interval or a hymned mantra like the one found on the track “My Prayer Beyond Ginnungapap”, Blut Aus Nord’s approach is always focused on getting the listener into a trance. This mental trance is what black metal is all about and these guy’s use it to the fullest. Where tracks like “The Plain of Ida” zone you out with harmonizing synths and catchy repetitive guitar riffs and tracks like “Till’ I Perceive Bitfrost” get your heart pumping with a slow building tempo that reaches aggressive speeds, the reverie of emotions work in solid unison, impressing a weighty degree of responsibility upon its listener. While one can listen to “Ultima Thulee” with a passive approach they will be forced to mentally take notice of the blistering screams from Vindval and the almost inhuman degree of presented emotion in the above mentioned mantra; making this release, in a sense, one that is not afraid of taking the upfront in your face approach to black metal; respectively speaking.
The minor flaws of “Ultima Thulee” may be in regards to the riffs sometimes being overly repetitive in nature, but in all reality the success of this album is not destroyed by such aspects as the recurring themes serve the purpose of instilling the set emotions into you so the transitions occur seamlessly. Also, the drums do little to stand out as their main purpose is to keep rhythm and give occasional tempo pushes but when one listens carefully they can find several moments of well fitted fills and occasional off timed snare beats which give a small taste of diversity. So while opinions may vary, these possible setbacks can be easily nullified with the appropriate outlook one should have with this album and black metal in general.
Although “Ultima Thulee” may not be regarded as Blut Aus Nord’s strongest release, it does show their unwavering-strong foundation in the genre as well as being a worthy precursor of what was to come; mainly the releases of “Memoria Vetusta I – Fathers of the Icy Age” , “The Work Which Transforms God”, and “Memoria Vetusta II:Dialogue with the Stars” with the latter being the strongest in my opinion.