Blut Aus Nord - Odinist: The Destruction of Reason by Illumination Review
by Mark Hensch
It is often that people in our society crave things which they can process, comprehend, and understand. 2007’s Odinist: The Destruction of Reason by Illumination (and the sixth full-length album overall for French tonality torturers Blut Aus Nord) takes this idea and burns it into smoldering ash. Though the entire world may blindly seek the forces of order and stability by default, this album will surely not give it to them; the gray, mechanical hymns to atonality and dissonance featured on Odinist hint at a senseless, cosmic horror and destruction that transcends mere evil via its own layered chaos.
Therein, perhaps, lays the appeal. Odinist is a challenging work, that rare aural experience which will have music fans of all stripes scratching their collective heads for years to come. It is a CD of strange emotions, metaphysical deconstructions, and inhuman spiritual journeys. Because of this, there is no middle ground on Odinist---this will be a love it or hate it affair for all people involved.
The Twilight Zone glimmer of anti-matter that is “Intro” kicks things off with a sort of shimmering universal ebony and blackness well beyond the reach of stars. Creepy yet strangely beautiful, it is one of the only truly serene moments on the entire disc.
“An Element of Flesh” shatters this disquieting interlude, launching into a plodding acid wash of churning drum machine patterns and paranoid, aggravating guitar work. The tones are nearly indescribable, hovering somewhere between atonal madness and veiled, claustrophobic mania. A psychedelic guitar solo is perverted into a twisted, looming shape amidst the darkness, and from here the song breaks down into a shambling crawl of Darkthrone hatred played at negative 200 BPM.
“The Sounds of the Universe” grows off the tail-end of “Flesh,” its mildly more frantic plod equal parts jagged and rhythmic. Cosmic wails fluidly dance with a shifting veil of bleak, glacial tremolo-melodies. Though at first glance linear and unrelenting, “Universe” is at its best when it lures listeners in to realizing that it is frighteningly vast.
The title track of “Odinist” is next and in my mind best represents Blut Aus Nord’s fusion of atonal elements ala MoRT and earlier, more traditional black metal routes of thinking. The melodies are grim, evil, but hypnotic. This is barbiturate black metal, the chilling blasphemy of old slowed down to an unthinkably robotic pace.
“A Few Shreds of Thoughts” jabs and stabs with an almost Meshuggah like technicality, the riffs being simultaneously memorable and dissonant at the same time. This song, though as slow as some of its surrounding brothers, features a bit more ‘slam’ and works itself into a primitive frenzy of flurrying sound. This slow-but-shredding rage devolves intro angular, smoldering fade-outs, ending the song on an awkwardly cutting note.
“Ellipsis,” meanwhile, taunts listeners with diseased scuffles of sound. At this point I’ve got to say that the drum machine fits seamlessly with the rest of the music---the soulless beats mesh perfectly with the gritty guitars and “Ellipsis” is no exception. In an odd twist further worth noting, the song ends on a malicious whisper rather than a ferocious bang.
“Mystic Absolu” flirts with periods of straightforward black metal stomp and immaterial chaos equally, the general tone being one of confusion and schizophrenia.
Last real song “The Cycle of Cycles” attacks with a circular swirl of blistering anarchy. At times flaying with a sinister main melody, at others wandering through twisting passages of cacophony, the song always spirals around into a sort of manic orchestra of atonal sound. Finally, “Outro” wraps things up by reprising the “Intro.” This circular return to the beginning can only be the icing on the cake thematically for “Cycles.”
As stated earlier, Odinist is a polarizing work of art. There can be no denying that this is not original, cutting-edge material that stimulates the mind and challenges popular convention. If the above descriptions are unlike any you have ever heard in a review, I recommend you expand upon your interest and check this out. If not, staying away from Odinist might not be a bad idea---after all, not everyone will like what they see when everything is Illumintated.
Blut Aus Nord’s Odinist: The Destruction of Reason by Illumination
2. An Element of Flesh
3. The Sounds of the Universe
5. A Few Shreds of Thoughts
7. Mystic Absolu
8. The Cycle of Cycles
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Blut Aus Nord - Odinist: The Destruction of Reason by Illumination
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