If you want a diverse sound with a Black Metal leaning then French maestros Blut Aus Nord will always fill that remit, over their twenty-five year or so career they have brought out some well varied and unique releases, blending elements of Atmospheric Black Metal, Avant-garde Black Metal, Industrial Metal and Dark Ambient in an array of assorted variants and studio offering number thirteen “Hallucinogen” continues in that vein.
I had heard that “Hallucinogen” would be different to some of their more recent and slightly more avant-garde offerings and sound wise it is just a little reminiscent of their “Memoria Vetusta” trilogy, which saw Pt. I manifest in 1996, Pt. II not until in 2009 and Pt.III finally in 2014, with a sound is a little more traditional and identifiable, by Blut Aus Nord standards anyway. Very reflective and atmospheric but more melodic this time, yet still packing a punch, and this release builds and improves on all they achieved on those three albums .
As the title suggests “Hallucinogen” also has a very psychedelic and progressive edge also but it’s not at all retro, this is far too forward thinking. The vocals, similar to the trilogy, take a secondary supporting role, most of the time having no obvious main vocals but relying on the whole on atmosphere rich chorals set back in the sound, giving a slightly instrumental feel as well as helping to make the album an end to end easy listen that is hugely meditative and enjoyable .
There is a very organic ebb and flow both within the tracks and between them, from the opener “Nomos Nebuleam” which initially has a traditional Atmospheric Melodic Black Metal feel to start becoming beautifully reflective slightly psychedelic to the second half.
“Nebeleste” begins very blackened and punchy to start, with a slight hint of lead vocals which turn more choral as the track becomes more reflective with some great repeat riffs that are both jangly and haunting, giving a very mesmerising feel to the track.
“Sybelius” is dominated by the jangly riffs, interspersed with darker elements and those mood rich chorals and great lead work especially midway and vitriolic second half vocals that are also set to the back of the sound.
“Anthosmos” has a reflective opener, but the intensity hits you full on a minute in with an unrelenting wall of riffs and distant screams melding with chorals, dropping back midway before being dominated again by jangly riffs and haunting chorals, the extended reflective close on the track allowing you time to contemplate before the next wall of blackened riffs in the shape of “Mahagma” surge towards you, softened by haunting chorals and punctuated by soaring bursts of lead work.
“Haallucinählia” has hypnotic riffs, jangly leads, and the occasional haunting oasis of quiet before closing on the angular yet haunting “Cosma Procyiris” with its deceptive drop away before one final dark hypnotic onslaught.
I’m loathed to pick a favourite track, if you love one you’ll love them all, an end to end excellent, rather beautiful and pretty unique listen, out now on Debemur Morti Productions as a CD, Vinyl or Digital.
Rating – 5/5
Hallucinate right here!