If you’re worried that it’s been almost six months since Vindsval gave us new Blut Aus Nord music, and you fear that a sudden gap in his inhuman rate of production will lead to some sort of twisted neural withdrawal, fear not. For even if there isn’t another grand project of 777 proportions on the horizon, it doesn’t mean he isn’t still releasing music…
It just isn’t new music.
Well, it’s new to you if you’ve never heard it, or if you never shelled out the 150 smackaroos the original was likely to cost you on eBay. Either of those, and this is new to you.
This being The Eye, a littler known side project of Vindsval’s during the earlier years of Blut Aus Nord. Originally released in 1997, Supremacy was the lone album released under the moniker, chronologically falling between Memoria Vetusta I – Fathers of the Icy Age and The Mystical Beast of Rebellion. It carries a certain kinship to the former, possessing a nearly identical guitar and programmed drum sounds, but the songwriting is quite different. Vindsval’s inside-out riffs are far less busy than usual here, intent only on doing what is barely necessary to maintain the darkened flow. Supremacy is barren, atmospheric black metal that sounds very much of the time it was originally produced, devoid of blast beats, flashy leads, or bravado of any sort. There is none of the epic vibe of MVI or the almost invasive feel of The Work Which Transforms God, but rather a stripped down, physically deep sound that hints just a tad at the recent What Once Was releases (remove the leads, add some keys).
With full hindsight about the wide breadth of music that Vindsval has penned over the years, it would be easy to slap the Blut Aus Nord name on this, but in 1997 The Eye was clearly coming from a different source. If MVI was the sound of the collective spirits of ancient warriors descending upon the Earth to reclaim what was once theirs, Supremacy was the lost voices of those who mourned their deaths in battle. (This is all hypothetical, I have no idea what either album’s lyrics are about.) It’s like a blurred-out, minimalistic and sorrowful reflection of Vindsval’s other works of the day. There is often true beauty in this sorrow, but it never strives to be mighty.
That is where Supremacy will undoubtedly lose some fans of more recent Blut material: its reserved nature. Most songs are based on just one or two cyclical themes, placed over simple rhythms as the mind wanders where it will. “The Call of a Thousand Souls,” for example, is largely based on the interactions of a keyboard melody and vocal line repeating over a very basic guitar motif. The keys, somewhat emulating a flute, ascend and descend as if by instinct, while the vocals haunt with a distant half-wail. It creates a very ghostly aura that has more in common with early 90s classics like Hvis lyset tar oss or even Vikingligr Veldi than it does with Sect(s) or The Desanctification.
This is by no means riff-heavy black metal, and that’s just fine, for The Eye was not conceived as such. Supremacy is intimate, personal music meant for such a listen. Headphones, darkness, eyes shut, doors locked. Let the vast images fill your mind. In that way it fits naturally into Vindsval’s legacy, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of his grand masterworks, it’s a damn hypnotic listen that any fan of early Blut Aus Nord ought to put to their ears.