Originally written by Ramar Pittance
I am just a casual fan of black metal. I have a begrudging respect for the genre, but for the most part I focus my energy elsewhere. However, I do keep my ear to the underground and when a work stirs up a considerable amount of buzz from the buzzmakers, I do my best to investigate. Such was the case with Blut Aus Nord’s latest release, The Work Which Transforms God. And, from the second I got my hands on this release to the typing of these words, it has engulfed every second of my musical consciousness.
The foundation for the success of this release is deceptively simple. Machine like drums and repetitive guitar riffs draw the listener into a hypnotic trance while lead guitar and keyboards arrive, harmonize and disappear, making almost imperceptible alterations to their consciousness. While this concept may seem all too familiar in the realm of black metal, the level of precision with which Blut Aus Nord executes this formula will eradicate any experiences with comparable acts that may exist within the mind of the listener. Honestly, comparisons to other black metal acts are unwarranted, as the vision on display here transcends the simple constructs of any one genre. In fact, the one name that comes to mind when listening The Work Which Transforms God is Godflesh. While Blut Aus Nord may reach more feverish tempos and offer up compositions that are more varied in scope, the same principles that made Streetcleaner such a powerhouse appear just as strongly here on The Work Which Transforms God. The atmosphere they create is just as dark. From the opening of “The Choir of the Dead” I am immediately transported. To where? I’m not sure. All I know is that it is dreadfully dark and lonely.
Fortunately for the listener, Blut Aus Nord’s ability to escape simple classification does not result in a completely inaccessible release. They know where to take ideas from those who have come before; they simply arrange them in a far more stirring manner. Songs like “Axis” and “The Howling of God” blast through the gate with recognizable black metal panache. However, upon further inspection it becomes clear how devious these compositions are. The almost casual drum syncopation of “Axis” is essentially what transforms this song from a standard frozen black metal anthem to a grade-A mindfuck.
Blut Aus Nord also seems keenly aware of how to inspire real terror in the heart of the listen. “The Fall” subsonically buzzes for nearly two minutes, only to be laid to waste by the dark dissonance of “Metamorphosis.” The abruptness with which the transition takes places is sinister.
The culmination of The Work Which Transforms God appears on the album’s 10 minute closer, “The Procession Of The Dead Clowns.” It is Carried almost exclusively by the same guitar riff for the duration, over which a hopeless and beautiful guitar melody is played. Never before have 10 minutes passed by so quickly in my life. It is a fitting end to the album. If experienced in the proper setting, the effects can be mesmerizing.
Production-wise I am without complaint. Everything is mixed the way it should be, without sounding polished or overly affected. It is suitably dark for fans of raw black metal, but does not get in the way of any instrument making the intended impact.
Blut Aus Nord have truly made something special here. In a year where almost everything I hear has offered fleeting immediate gratification, they have managed to create an album that has singed itself into my brain. It’s no easy listen, but when given the proper attention you will find that there are some truly amazing things going on here. It is an album that will have a profound effect on some. For others, it will simply make for truly intriguing listen. Either way, I highly recommend you search out this album and see into which group you fall.