Review: Blut Aus NordDisharmonium – Nahab


Blutty hell.

Nahab. It’s the pseudonym of Keziah Mason, a character most prominently featured in “The Dreams In The Witch-House” by H.P. Lovecraft. An elderly woman accused of witchcraft who, through her dealings with the extra-dimensional forces of the Yog-Sothothery, gained inter-dimensional insight and movement—becoming almost four-dimensional, with the ability to operate “outside” of human perception. Neither among the most celebrated nor famous of Lovecraft’s stories, “The Dreams In The Witch-House” is an interesting inspiration for the second in Blut Aus Nord‘s Disharmonium trilogy. It’s Lovecraft at his purest essence, Lovecraft distilled—cosmic pessimism, undefined features, the World-Without-Us piercing through the membrane of perception, all elements that Blut Aus Nord attempt to harness throughout the record.

Developing from the crystalline synth worship and freezing black metal of Ultima Thulée to the fledgling undercurrents of industrial-ambience throughout The Work Which Transforms God, through to the abstractions of genre trappings found on the 777 series, Blut Aus Nord were always consistent in quality, but rarely in sound. The first in the Disharmonium series saw itself releasing after Hallucinogen, a record which garnered broad critical acclaim for its surprising melodic ear. Blut Aus Nord chose to follow the release with a series that incorporates elements of dark ambient, eschewing the sound that had brought them so much late-career fanfare, and continue to develop independent of the industry, exclusively to the whims of their artistry and influences. The same as it ever was.

The record begins with the first of the album’s three ambient tracks, the kick-off mood piece “Hideous Dream Opus #1”. It’s an inoffensive introduction that’s a bit too cinematic in its composition to really evoke the dreamscapes of the Witch-House implied by its title. An album like this benefits from considerate pacing, so an unremarkable but functional atmospheric piece doesn’t detract at all, but it’s unfortunately a bit limp when standing in the shadows of similar introductory tracks in Blut Aus Nord’s catalog – namely tracks like “End” and “Prelude”. Fortunately the later examples through the album, particularly “Hideous Dream Opus #2”, is much more developed, accomplishing more as both a singular piece of music and as respite between the harshness.

“Mental Paralysis” assaults with dissonant, swirling riffing, the track having an almost warped militarism to it. The record’s manic vocal performance is introduced, a sibilant, gurgling delivery juxtaposed with choral accentuation in the background of the track. “Mental Paralysis” is a fitting title, as it feels like the start of something terrible, something heavy weighing down on your head, the whirlwind nature of the track making it impossible to get your bearings, disorientating you.

Blut Aus Nord has always been a dynamic project, flitting pretty consistently between intense harshness and somber stillness throughout the bulk of their discography. “The Endless Multitude” is the first track to highlight this transition, a track whose frenetic introduction gives way to a slower, menacing second half—an arpeggiated lead guitar exploring the space generated by the cosmic synth-pad background, before exploding back to life at the climax.

“The Crowning Horror” is subtly one of the more unique tracks on the record. With a riff that swells and subsides at a steady pace, it gives the impression of something massive taking loud, laboured breaths, accented by the vocal delivery—curdled and guttural, sounding as if you’re being digested in some colossal, sleeping entity. It’s a surprisingly minimal composition for the style, reminiscent of last year’s Scarcity record in its dynamic quality.

The most consistent quality present throughout the instrumentation is how riffs are constantly ascending and descending, often in oddly syncopated patterns, and are damn near motion-sickness inducing. “The Black Vortex” is the most obvious example, and it’s maybe the most chaotic the record gets. The drowned vocals throughout the back-half have an almost liturgical feel, meekly calling out from the dense chaos of the instrumentation before giving way to a disquieting outro, as if the titular vortex erased everything that came before, leaving behind the outro as a calling card.

“The Nameless Rites” is less gripping, save for some sweet lead work at the halfway mark. Though suitably gruff and more forlorn than much of the record, it’s not an immediate highlight. Followed by “Hideous Dream Opus #3”, the last of the record’s ambient tracks, it’s a lull in the runtime that acts as the calm before the storm.

Fortunately, the one-two combination of “The Ultimate Void Of Chaos” and closing track “Forgotten Aeon” end the record with aplomb. Both feature atypical riffing for Blut Aus Nord, feeling like a blackened, modified ode to chaotic ’90s mathcore, not a thousand miles away from something like Coalesce but doused in swampy reverb. The record ends with some bubbling, discomforting ambient noise—fantastically eerie, underlining the album with fervor.

The second chapter of Disharmonium is occasionally Blut Aus Nord at their most nightmarish, highlighting their dynamic prowess, constant reinvention and effortless ability to generate some of the thickest atmospheres in extreme metal. Though hindered slightly by some glacial pacing, it’s the sort of record that grows on you with repeated listens, as more and more qualities that escaped you on first listen elucidate themselves to you—like a Lovecraftian creature, hiding in plain sight, at the limits of perception.

3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Disharmonium – Nahab is out now on Bandcamp!

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