Blut Aus Nord

777 – Sect(s)

01. Epitome I
02. Epitome II
03. Epitome III
04. Epitome IV
05. Epitome V
06. Epitome VI

[Debemur Morti Productions]

When it comes to angry metal, Americans have it down. We’ve got hardcore, death metal and their spinoffs (thrash, metalcore, deathcore etc) figured out pretty well – but when it’s down to more intricate emotions, Europeans usually pull it off better. Blut Aus Nord, the monolithic French avant-garde black metal titans, have really, really nailed down the feeling on utter, absolute despair in 777 – Sect(s). They make Portal (the Australian one, with the clock heads and such) look like amateurs. If that’s your thing, 777 – Sect(s) is the place to go; but venture forth carefully, because this music will take a piece from you.
How do I describe the sound? It’s one notch short of utter evil. Blut Aus Nord use fretless guitars to achieve a very dissonant sound that is beyond any normal person’s musical radar, and the vocals are unintelligible shrieks. The emphasis here isn’t on songs or structure or anything—it’s about creating the absolute blackest sound. Yes, this is black metal, but not entirely. It’s not melodic, it’s not epic, and it’s not pretty. That means most black metal fans will think it’s good black metal. It’s definitely not disingenuous, which is a problem many black metal/avant-garde releases have if they try too hard. Blut Aus Nord know what they are doing.

As for the production, the drums sound absolutely terrible. They sound like bad midi samples, and they stand out and destroy the ambience completely, especially when there are blast beats, like in ‘Epitome 1‘. The guitars sound very weird and huge, which is probably the effect Blut Aus Nord were going for. There are definitely some sludge elements in the album which benefit a lot from this sound, like in ‘Epitome 2’. The vocals are surprisingly well produced, given that they are throaty rasps, and they don’t drown out the music. They also don’t feel forced; they blend especially well with some of the more droning songs. Some tracks have the occasional electronic elements, and it’s all crafted skillfully enough that it all comes together well.

I’ve stated all mechanical details, and I’ve gone over academically what the album sounds like, but how does it feel? To be honest, it’s a mixed bag. Due to the use of fretless guitars, all concepts of note and music go out of the window, and in the more black metal songs like Epitomes 1, 3 and 5, there’s not much to tell the songs apart. If you like Portal, you should like those songs too, but the constant blast beat from the terribly fake sounding drums ruins those songs. Where the albums really shines is the more drone-like songs, Epitomes 2, 4 and 6. They paint a really evil and dark landscape, and each one is unique and great in its own way. They have enough going on to keep you listening, yet they have enough presence for you to get completely lost in.

Basically, as a black metal album, 777 – Sect(s) is not that great, but as a drone/sludge album, it’s pretty good. From what I understand, Blut Aus Nord will be releasing several albums this year as part of a grand concept a la Devin Townsend, so you should keep an eye out for those too. Definitely not Blut Aus Nord’s best effort, but it’s still a worthy listen for fans.

Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s) gets…

– NT

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