BLUT AUS NORD contort into another unheard of epoch on the grandiose “Hallucinogen”

When it comes to blurring the lines between genres Blut Aus Nord are no strangers to the concept. Setting the bar quite high for themselves with the 777 Trilogy, their newest release Hallucinogen is a step in a new direction and a valiant attempt at a reinvention of their own sound. Blut Aus Nord are veterans at walking to the beat of their own drum.

Hallucinogen wants to be a complete departure from the past and reinvention of sound, and according to the band is best described as, “a new stage in our process of perpetual regeneration”. Nevertheless, old habits die hard and fragments of the bands former self still shine through the cracks in French outfit’s most recent endeavor.

Shedding their religious themes for a slightly more ambiguous approach, Hallucinogen is beyond a doubt an atmospheric interpretation of the psychedelic experience, more often than not swapping dissonance for soaring melodies and atmosphere more akin to the likes of Mgła or, dare we say, Wolves in the Throne Room.

The album’s first track “Nomos Nebuleam” acts as a soft introduction to the deliberate change in direction the band has chosen to take with their latest release, an atmospheric and instrumental journey into the band’s new sound reminiscent of the aforementioned Poles. The album really comes into its own with tracks like “Anthosmos”  and “Mahagma”, an interesting duo more reliant on melody and emotion than anything we’ve seen from the band thus far.

At this point the album really seems to be developing towards some sort of grand climax, a pinnacle that we unfortunately find ourselves still grasping to reach at the conclusion of the album. The final two tracks, “Haallucinahlia” and “Cosma Procyiris” both have high potential, but in the end seem a bit jumbled and spontaneous, giving the impression that the band could not reach an agreement on the proper atmosphere for the end of the album, instead drawing on influences from all parties, leaving a bit to be desired in conclusion.

Halucinogen is a strong release and a welcome departure into unknown territory for Blut Aus Nord. That being said, it feels like this new soundscape they have so intricately crafted is unfinished, and there’s still a fair amount of room for growth in this medium. Perhaps a breath of fresh air for fans of Blut Aus Nord, but overall it still feels more like the first half of a two part album, a beautiful blend of melody and chaos that still allows for a great deal of development. If Blut Aus Nord decides to follow this with a sequel in the form of an epilogue, none will be the least bit surprised. The record just begins to scratch the surface of an ocean of untapped potential and a new, audible identity for the French master.

Hallucinogen will see release on digitpak CD, 2xLP, cassette, and all digital formats worldwide through DEBEMUR MORTI PRODUCTIONS. The vinyl edition will be available in four variants; black vinyl, a Debemur Morti exclusive variant, a North American exclusive variant, and a Season Of Mist exclusive variant.



EPECTASE revise the black metal paradigm on the perplexing “Astres”

In a realization that is as arcane as it is superterestrial, the French band Epectase – comprised of two musicians known as Vague and Avitis – is set to cast forth their inaugural album Astres. Across five tracks and 63 minutes, Astres is a fully crystalized and monolithic vision exploring themes of opposition and polarity in both sound and philosophy.

The horrors of the cosmic unknown and the deep void of the human psyche emerge as intrinsically linked macro and micro perspectives, with the external veiled universe acting as a symbolic inverse to the internal veil of death itself. Thematically the first two songs center around travel or transition, highlighted by the action verbs of their titles- running/entering. In contrast the final two tracks reference metaphysical destinations of Maze and Sea.

Musically, Astres is a release rooted in black metal with plenty of dissonance and frantic, anxious riffs however these elements work in tandem alongside clean grooves and complex progressive bursts. Catchy, repetitive melodies invoke ruminative effects, expanding on the depth and feel of a riff until the listener is fully immersed. Drums represent significant variation, from relentless crushing blows to spacey clicks and sizzles, or even ceasing entirely to emphasize minimalistic ethereal moments.

The first song “As He Runs Towards the Stars” is a mad dash towards the wicket potential of both the cosmic and inner void. The track snakes between raw black metal and smoother prog-influenced sections, that at times glimmer with a cosmic wonder and at others ring out a sickly warning tone. Next, “Entering the Domain of the Solar Sovereign” is a chaotic nebula of dissonance and floating melody with some of the most memorable and jazzy riffs of the album. Echoed whispering, squealing guitar sections and aggressive low growls give shape and dimension to the sovereign’s epic presence.

Identified as the climax, the middle track “Solar Winds” is highly ambient with half-whispered spoken word lyrics and notes that twang and warble as if warped by the flow of celestial currents. Building to its own apex, droning riffs layer upon lower, denser tones, eventually joined by sibylline clean vocals.

The conclusion of Solar Winds signifies a transition from English to French and to a faster, harsher sound. “La Dédale des Astres et des Âmes” is manic and claustrophobic, it’s peaks of aggression inciting anticipation and terror with every twist. The vocals grow in intensity as growls rise to panicked shrieks drowning in anguish and straining against corporeal decay. “La Mer Pourpre” begins with tidal riffs that rise and churn, slowing to an isolated guitar melody that like mist over still water. The tenuous calm is abruptly broken as turbulent layers return, accompanied by a grim vocal chant.

Astres is exceptionally successful at crafting a bold synthesis of styles, suspiring life into the cosmic and psychological aspects of the album’s vision without relenting the finely wrought threads of existential dread that lie within.

I, VOIDHANGER RECORDS will unveil Epectase’s debut on digipak CD with slipcase.


DREAMS OF THE DROWNED create an atmospheric singularity dissolving batcave reverb into hellish black metal

The more we delve into the musical genres we obsess over, in search of the most unknown and obscure, there tends to be a subsequent longing for those initial feelings of surprise and unjaded satisfaction that we have all experienced when we first heard a band like Mayhem and were opened up to this depraved world of sonic fuckery, when it was all still so new to us. The nature of time is that the future builds on the past, and the same is true of artistic endeavors, whether conscious or not, and so as we listen to more music, we come to more frequently anticipate its tendencies.

But despite the fatigue that often times accompanies a saturated style, as with black metal, we trudge on like the proper masochist fanatics we are, endlessly anticipating the moment when something such as Dreams Of The Drowned’s debut self titled full length appears out of nowhere to finally break the spell of uniformity with a bizarre inbreeding of styles that somehow maintains all coherency through technical proficiency and palpable emotion.

It seems almost comical to consider how far black metal has come from its inception. From the stubbornly elitist policy of “true cult” doctrine that denounces all beauty and polish, to the hypnotic seduction conjured by Camille, the singular mastermind behind Dreams Of The Drowned. Taking the snarling visage and lathering it with the woeful poignancy of post punk and shoegaze, Camille’s creative breadth expands beyond borders to bring seemingly disparate elements together and weld them into seamless matrimony. It is a marriage as bizarre at times as it is so powerful, which elevates it above any kind of genre ‘mix-and-match’ fad.

Like a siren to a sailor, songs like “Conciliabules” or “Crawl Of Concretes” hypnotize through crystalline guitar tone and dreamy vocals, lulling one into a trance, even as an evidently hateful malice lurks just behind the veil of beauty. That veil, though, becomes compromised, hinting at the undercurrent of ferocity in “The Revolutionary Dead”, in which the gentle voice is equally at odds with that of demoniac abhorrence, made even more so by such a direct contrast. The song also highlights Camille’s expertise at crafting intensely dramatic black metal compositions, with a section that emotes the chaos of being caught up in an Atlantean calamity.

“Real and Sound” deliberately shifts in both instrumentation and tone, trading the sweeping gusts for d-beat stomps as the strings cry triumphant and bright in celebratory spirit. But even in such an aura of harmony, there resides a constant shade of despair to it all, and a sting to the sweetness.

The juxtaposition of the guitar tone with the overall style of otherwise aggressive play is critical to the character of the album. This clash between strings that would seem more at home from anarcho-punk vanguards like Killing Joke or Amebix or modern dark sounds like Soft Kill or Drab Majesty, and the swirling vortex they are subject to, along with the rhythm section, creates an unreal atmosphere, in which beauty is dangerous. And Camille finds multiple avenues with which to harness his sound, either to bewitch with dark grace, or else utterly stifle the listener with labyrinthine disorientation in “Danced”, which bears relation to a band like Thantifaxath’s penchant for kaleidoscopic insanity.

Dødheimsgard © Eirik Aspaas

Camille also pays tribute to one of the old guard in the genre, Dodheimsgard, in covering “Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne” from off their 1995 debut full length, Kronet Til Konge. But in this endeavor, Camille managed to recruit the original voice of the song, Aldrahn, resulting in a track that is notably divergent from the pack, while paradoxically fitting in so well as a piece of the whole and not falling into the awkward pitfall of misplacement that covers often tend to become on a tracklist.

Dreams Of The Drowned is a feat that undoubtedly would have fallen apart in lesser hands, but through a determined vision of bleak psychedelia, Camille has painstakingly crafted an oddity that delivers on multiple fronts with originality and substance. Dreams Of The Drowned is sure to piss off as many conservative minded traditionalists as it will win the hearts of listeners, and it could be said that the merit of a piece of art can be measured equally by the hate it garners as by the love.

Digitally released by DROWNED ANTHEM RECORDS for the spring equinox. To be released on vinyl sometime this year by DUPLICATE RECORDS (Virus, Organ, Beyond Dawn) and on CD for June 15th by CULT OF NINE RECORDS.



DRASTUS preserves the French tradition of orthodox malevolent mania on “Le Croix De Sang”

Taking part in Drastus’ latest colossus of an album, Le Croix De Sang, is to risk consumption of the mind and spirit in the shadow of a cosmic malice. Demanding as much as it gives back in return to the listener, Le Croix De Sang pulls no punches in its debilitating nature.

Perpetuating the French legacy of inhuman extremity, Drastus seem to have tapped into precarious energies with which to infuse their art, conceiving an utterly malefic atmosphere through instrumentation that in itself wears on the psyche in its unyielding nature. But for those willing and able to traverse the scathing landscape of cancer that Drastus have presented, there is a promise of bleak satisfaction, if not empowerment.

With ceremonial thunder, Drastus quickly reveal their true nature, pushing the listener from the initial foundations of the mid tempo and into lightless depths of sound that embody forces elemental. And by the end of the album opener, “Nihil Sine Polum”, the newcomer to Le Croix De Sang is forced to reconcile the strength of their will to continue on, only to be instantly swept back up in the utter chaos of “Ashura” without a moment’s respite.

Drastus’ guitars form less a wall of sound and more a gaping maw by which the listener is gradually swallowed. Atmosphere takes prominence over technicality in the way of the guitar, opting for drawn out riffing that seems to dance with one another in a hellish swirl. Much like a locust swarm, frenzied within the maelstrom of the string section, the drumming is nearly constant in its unrelenting attack, reaching such heights of dexterity and stamina that it seems more likely a force of nature than what any human could manage. The drums’ thundering pace oft – times achieves a weightlessness that interweaves with the guitar into a singular gust.

Like a parasitic wraith, the vocals hiss steadily and utterly bereft of melody, perfecting the inhospitality of this realm that Drastus inhabit. There is no mind for respite, no thought for the mental constitution of the beholder. Much like some unearthed wellspring of Lovecraftian knowledge, the contents are as intoxicating as they are destructive in the extent to which they push you.

“Crawling Fire” seems an apt song title for the third track, which begins in an almost militaristic war march across plains of ash. Le Croix De Sang pervades an overall operatic grandiosity, but it is in “Crawling Fire” that we first hear the vocals shift to match it, changing from hellish keening to a woeful melody that not only offers a newfound element to the mix, but is a precious respite from the raw vitriol of all else.

Whereas the beginnings of Le Croix De Sang were spent in a furious plummet, “The Crown Of Death” seems to have met the bottom of the abyss, casting us to the ground and wandering across a wasted landscape overshadowed with the dark outlines of gothic superstructures. This track in particular plays on a sense of foreboding more than immediate crisis. Yet another demonstration of Drastus’ vocal range is put into use here, as the vocalist’s voice ululates hopelessly, bringing to mind some lost and damned wretch in Dante’s vision of Hell.
The precious and short lived harmony of “Hermetic Silence” is downright crushed under the entrance of “Occisor”, which is the closest Drastus gets to a traditional black metal track on Le Croix De Sang. The later half of the album reflects a noticeable shift in atmosphere, what feels like a progression towards an ultimate end that is “Constrictor Torrents”. The song emotes a strong aura of finality in the form of a ritualistic majesty. It is clear that this is the end of a journey, and somehow, “Constrictor Torrents” makes all that has come before that much sweeter, coloring it all with a glaze of added meaning, that everything was building to this.

The kind of music that Drastus articulate, along with other contemporaries like Bestia Arcana, tends to have more in common with classical orchestration than much modern metal. In earnest these bands are able to pull off the sonic equivalent of a mythical epic. Each song is in itself an expanse of nightmarish feeling, bereft of any traditional songwriting structure, as it plods ever onward, never turning back. The instrumental components blend into something intangible, and whereas the tendency of heavy music is in the more earthen, primal impact, Drastus conjure the ethereal in its blackest form.

DRUSTUS’s first album in 10 years has been released by Norma Evangelium Diaboli on LP and CD.