For a band that was originally shrouded in a fair bit of mystery and anonymity, Blut Aus Nord has come perilously close to oversaturating its own relatively niche market. Although Vindsval and company have slowed down over the past three or four years, with a bit of hindsight it seems clear that the overwhelming thrill of so much new BAN (in the form of the staggered release of follow-up installments of the Memoria Vetusta series, the three-part 777 series, and the What Once Was vinyl series) might have been ultimately detrimental to fans’ ability to process and appreciate the different aspects of the BAN sound.
As such, it’s a bit hard to imagine much of anyone getting particularly excited about an album like this. To be sure, Yerûšelem is different enough from Blut Aus Nord, but if you’ve heard that band’s (much better) Thematic Emanations… EP, much of this will be, if not familiar, then at least easily digestible. Vindsval’s equipment and programming skills have definitely improved since that EP, however, which means that The Sublime is pretty immaculate-sounding. The incessant downbeats of “Joyless” are the heaviest (and most directly Godflesh-descended) aspect of the album, although with a powerful stereo set-up, the bass throughout ought to shake even the sturdiest of buildings.
“Autoimmunity” is one of the best pieces here, with an interesting tension between the skittering cymbal programming and the squealing guitar leads, but both “Triiunity” and “Babel” are a bit too much to take, with the former thudding a little too close to nu-metal, and the latter simply a plodding bore. The album as a whole is darkly hypnotic, and easy enough to put on and drift along with. There are plenty of nervy, agitated Vindsval guitar lines to appreciate, but with repeated plays, the album’s flaws extrude more noisily; notably, the vocals are too often repetitive, a muted and buried but still distracting affectation of detached gothic nonchalance.
At its heart, Yerûšelem feels like a necessary diversion. It’s a satisfying and well-crafted album which, despite some of its messy seams, plays like a sincere love letter to a rich vein of musical influence. Whether it presages further experimentation to come or instead just intends to give Vindsval a place to work out some fringe ideas a bit too unwieldy for Blut Aus Nord remains to be seen. For now, while it may not quite approach the sublime, it sure is pretty.