Home > Music > Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta I (1996)

Blut Aus Nord – Memoria Vetusta I (1996)

Prior to being an avant-garde black metal band, Blut Aus Nord was a fairly typical black metal band – Sorcier Des Glaces level typical, enamored with the Norwegian scene and employing the same Mayhem/Burzum/Immortal/etc. cocktail that so many bands before them and after them mixed. On the other hand, BAN had the gift of songwriting that characterizes so many of the works I like. This album employs basically the exact strategy that Sacramentum used on their debut, to the point that I can summarize the differences between this album and Far Away From The Sun with a short list:

  1. Fathers of the Icy Age has more prominent and complex basslines. Sacramentum didn’t shy away from bassing it up, but their debut is pretty much carried by guitar counterpoint.
  2. Fathers of the Icy Age contains a greater variety of vocals, due to the addition of clean chanting,  which is sometimes harmonized. The harsh vocals have less ‘body’ to them, and the entire vocal track is softer relative to that on Far Away From The Sun.
  3. Far Away From The Sun has a much cleaner production. While everything is reasonably well mixed on Memoria Vetusta, the production tends more towards the ‘necro’ style associated with Norwegian black metal, and in general goes for a more ambient ‘wall of sound’ approach.
  4. Far Away From The Sun‘s songs are generally faster than that of this album, in terms of pure BPM, and also riff/drumming changes. It has more blastbeats, as well. However, it also changes its tempos up within songs more than this album, which does it fairly infrequently. Even this album’s predecessor, Ultima Thulee, was more varied in terms of tempos.

Note how these are almost always aesthetic differences. Both of these albums rely heavily on their melodic/harmonic prowess to retain listener interest, but Blut Aus Nord’s second album is basically the atmospheric counterpart of its Swedish sibling.

Anyways, the compositional similarities render this one of my favorites along with Far Away From The Sun, although that album still edges it out in riff writing and song structure. The amount of counterpoint at any given time is generally lower, as many of the riffs are monophonic, with harmonic reinforcement. The occasional keyboards and clean vocals are more likely to perform something that doesn’t quite match the guitars and bass. Percussion is provided by a drum machine, but the unknown W.D. Feld writes a reasonably large amount of mid-paced patterns. Variety is not as high as it was on the recently discussed Here in After by Immolation, but since the drums are relatively subdued and ambient compared to that album, that’s not really a problem.

Overall, how much you’ll enjoy this album depends on how much you like the melodic sorts of black metal. This is a very ‘predictable’ release, in that it conforms to a style that was well defined by 1996, uses fairly simple song structures, and isn’t given to variety. On the other hand, it does what it aims for very well. Vindsval, after writing this, probably felt that continuing to write in this style would lead to artistic stagnation, hence the transformation of BAN into a horrific, apocalyptic industrial beast that probably listens to more Immolation than is healthy. Opinions on it are divisive. It seems like the sort of music I’d like, but I’d actually have to give The Work Which Transforms God or whatever a spin to actually make that decision.

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