Blut Aus Nord
Deus Salutis Meae
(Debemur Morti Productions)
French one-man-band Blut Aus Nord have been challenging listeners for 23 years now, and after finally completing their second of two out-of-order trilogies, no one except for Vindsval really knew where they would go. Sonically, Blut Aus Nord have taken a rather non-linear progression model. Threads of dissonant death metal, hypnotic doom, industrial, and dark ambient have weaved their way in and out, depending on whichever record you pick at random. Though pigeon-holed in with progressive black metal groups like Deathspell Omega, dissonance and darkness aren’t at the heart of what makes Blut Aus Nord fascinating. Instead, no matter how oppressive the actual sounds coming from your speakers, the French group aim for something (naturally) a bit more artistic yet more easily digestible; their music is much more haunting, mesmerizing, and unexpectedly beautiful. It’s entrancing less because it’s like a train-wreck and more because it grabs you by the throat, ties you up, and forces you to experience something.
On that note, Deus Salutis Meae is one fantastic experience. Really, it distills just about everything that’s made past works interesting into something cohesive and maddeningly gripping. There’s harrowing industrial death (with Morbid Angel riffs!) and hallucinatory doom in spades, but it’s all filtered through a dark ambient mindset. Interestingly, despite how loud this record is, it may be one of Vindsval’s most accessible (used really loosely here) records yet, in that there’s no musical callbacks or reference points to Blut Aus Nord’s extensive back catalog. It’s just easy to sit back and enjoy the musical maelstrom. Surely, Deus Salutis Meae is definitely reminiscent of Adrian Belew’s time with Nine Inch Nails – the use of avant-garde melody is mesmerizing, but the increased death metal emphasis (especially in album standout “Apostasis”) marries well with the swirling sounds. The record constantly makes the listener feel like they’re taking part in an ancient ritual, though Blut Aus Nord’s spirituality feels more open-minded and uplifting than Satanism. It’s very old.
Ultimately, Blut Aus Nord have proven that they are just as vital and refreshing 23 years into their career as they were at the onset. Deus Salutis Meae is certainly a dense and destructive listen, but it’s also a rich and rewarding experience.