Sunday, 16 September 2012

Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy Review

Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy [Avant-garde Black Metal]

When Blut Aus Nord announced a trilogy of albums to be released within six months of each other last year, a lot of people wondered if the quality of music would be compromised for quantity. Devin Townsend and Ihsahn have put forth stale albums this year that could have been more polished on their own timing. So when the first two installments were released in the 777 trilogy, namely 777 - Sect(s) and 777 - Desanctification, a lot of people praised the freshness of the musical directions whilst people like me were rather alienated by the seemingly unmusical style of the band. Industrial computer beats, black metal riffs that drone in and out, mechanical but steady drums, and mostly indistinguishable vocals plagued the two albums and I didn't look through them again till late this year when the apparent message of the album sinked in - this is after all a concept about nightmare dreamscapes and fearful sounds, what else would it do but make you feel discomfort? With more spins, Sect(s) and Desanctification soon proved to be the more unorthodox and effective musical releases from this French metallers.

Followed by the news this year that the third installment would be delayed from February 2012 to September, simply because band leader Vindsval didn't find the product powerful enough then. Marketting plot or not, I listened to this record six months after it was due.

And then one understands the meaning of Vindsval's words when he announced the delay.

Immediately, things become apparent, the production is spacey and riffs float about within the first few seconds of Epitome XIV, before the first song starts proper with... vocals that have been processed by the vocoder while remaining as unintelligible as the previous records. While the previous records sounded evil and ominous, this record sounds bittersweet, emotional and triumphant, all at once.

As it progresses, Cosmosophy begins to unveil itself as something far beyond black metal at all, with an almost industrial backdrop and rapped out verse starting Epitome XV, a receipe that would spell cheesy disaster in the hands of another musician. But it is the final two epics, Epitome XVII and Epitome XVIII, with its post-apocalyptic compositions that even manage to find pieces of melodies from the previous two albums weaving in and out to fully utilise the fact that this is really a trilogy and not a bunch of albums with a similar theme. It is minimalistic, without the acrobatics of the past two polyrhythmic albums, and that is not to say 777 - Cosmosophy is replete of complexity.

As you listen, images of your own life would definitely surface as you let the music play. It was probably the inspiration for the 777 series when it was announced last year, but music this inspired, this paradoxical and this evocative is what differenciates the people who play music and the people who create music. If Tool, Pig Destroyer or Converge fail to make a more stunning album in the final quarter of the year, than we already have the album of the year. This is not even metal, this is music.

★★★★★ Excellent - Undisputed classic for critical listening

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