Review Summary: Less frog licking, more wall climbing.
When people talk Blut Aus Nord most of the conversation is geared towards their 777
trilogy (and rightly so) but when considering the vast mass of this French band’s discography there’s a noticeable, almost linear development in their sound. Whether it be the unabashed black metal purity of Blut’s nineties material that experimented with lacey, gazey atmospherics and shell-shocked impressions. Wind forward a few years and the French tour de force unveils their newest offering (albeit streamed early in response to an illegal leaking) and while Hallucinogen
is a forward thinking move into the world of psychedelia based black metal. Yet, the band still suffers under the proverbial ceiling of its own making.
Mostly, it comes down to Hallucinogen
's ability to write transcendental music and somehow fall short of the expectations they set within their sound. You can fill a balloon with helium but if you let it go inside it will only ever ascend to the ceiling. Hallucinogen
, like much of Blut Aus Nord's music fits this vague imagery, bobbing around before resting in a shadowy corner.
Still, to keep this analogy going - the fact that Blut's 2019 piece can even reach the lofty heights of joists and Michael Angelo artwork is quite a feat. Despite how negatively geared this review has been thus far, Hallucinogen is
a great record, chock full of good ideas and a well executed psychoactive atmosphere. The album's opening piece, "Anthosmos" is a building piece that offers part atmosphere and outright dissonance. Now that's pretty standard as far as [both] the band and the genre goes, but for Blut Aus Nord working from a simplistic standpoint gives better accessibility, especially after the band's mammoth (and occasionally rewarding) 777
trilogy. But for all the album's greatness (presented largely on the outer) Hallucinogen
stops at that and just short of a fantastic, genre-defining record.
's psychedelia inspired elements aren't immediate and have all the ear-marks of a "grower"... except it doesn't. In short terms, what you see is exactly what you get; quality, memorable music. Although the psychedelia is not a deliberately obvious (“come take some mushrooms with me”) exploration into frog-licking black metal. Rather, it's a gentle, somewhat cliche expressionism: basically, the music itself is all the high you need. This thought is better shown throughout the album's centre, "Mahagma" and "Nebeleste" carry the particular nuance of an atmosphere induced psych-trip torn into a visceral and un-doubting black metal affair. But for all the grandeur, the affirmation of melding beauty into dissonance and subtlety into aesthetic bluntness, Blut Aus Nord doesn't transcend into its intended shape. It's mass stops at its ceiling, unable to pass the barrier. This is due to the album’s carrying sound saturation. At times, there’s just too much emphasis on the synths, too much bearing in the atmosphere and try to bridge the gaps between their 777
trilogy and the group’s newer sound directions. Despite these grievances, Hallucinogen
is still a very
As a whole Blut Aus Nord is a tale of layers told separately, but meshed together. It works, but doesn’t reach the lofty expectations of open air. In 2019, the band has nailed the artwork, found a production value to suit the band’s shift in sound but there’s something (some would argue still
) holding back in terms of songwriting. There are time where the repeated motifs can tune its listeners out. There’s cohesion that’s done well, but not well enough to maintain this album on a peak. It could be that even after all these years that Blut Aus Nord have built their rooftops too high, never to be reached by theme alone.