Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blut Aus Nord- MoRT (2006)

In 2003, Blut Aus Nord released “The Work Which Transformed God.” The album integrated industrial beats, dissonant riffs and sweeping melodies into an alien atmosphere, creating one of the most haunting and original black metal albums of the last decade. Blut Aus Nord appeared to be at the edge of a new frontier within black metal. After three years of anticipation, Blut Aus Nord finally released the follow up, “MoRT” (the French word for death). Unfortunately, the name is all too accurate. All the brilliant elements that composed “The Work…” have died and all that is left is a dull, industrial corpse. 

“MoRT” is a painfully monochromatic album, always grounded in uneven industrial drum beats played at mid tempo. The beats are overlaid with herky-jerky dissonant guitar noodling. The same perfunctory progressions are repeated, seemingly forever, before freezing—like an obsolete machine struggling to shift gears—and then falling into a new riff, repeated with the same leaden character. Vocalist Vindvsal employs a wide range of vocals throughout the work, shifting between growls, chants and whispers. Regardless of the type of vocals, they are always heavily processed with hyperbolic electronic overtones. Consequently, the vocals sound sloppy and muddy and are often completely indistinguishable within the mix. Other random electronic noises swirl around from time to time, failing to add any effect. The overall experience is like being on shrooms inside an automobile factory.

That basically describes every song on the album. It is worth mentioning the creepy sounds in between songs (i.e. slow church bells, people screaming, inaudible words spoken by a monstrous voice) which are fairly dark sounding. However, a little atmosphere between songs doesn’t get you very far when the actual music so robotic. 

It is not uncommon for bands to fail to live up to expectations after a masterwork and there are countless examples of disappointing follow ups, but “MoRT” is more than a mere disappointment; it is an historic bust. Instead of developing upon the sound of “The Work”, Blut Aus Nord isolated its dissonant and industrial elements. "The Work" harnessed dissonant and industrial elements that functioned brilliantly as part of a greater whole, but when isolated these same components are intolerable. In its attempt to discover the stripped-down epicenter of black metal, “MoRT” falls flat on its face, onto a conveyor belt leading straight to the bargain bin. 

Overall: 2/10

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