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Blut aus Nord – 777 – Sect(s)

Blut aus Nord’s fans tend to fall into two camps: those who like its music melodic, and those who like its music a-melodic. This is typical of bands that do two distinct things. Corrosion of Conformity (hardcore punk (early) and Southern rock (later)) and Sepultura (genre-enclosed metal (early) and genre-unfettered metal (mid-career)) come to mind. (Sepultura have gone on to a third thing, the Derrick Green years, but I’m not sure if that thing has any fans.) Musicians tend to be more open-minded than their fans; hence the fluidity of identity that ruins fans’ notions of ownership over bands: “they’re not ‘our’ band anymore”. Except for bands like Melvins and Boris, whose singularity is their lack thereof, fans want bands to be singular.

I’m no exception. Closed-minded me doesn’t like Blut aus Nord’s melodic side. It’s icy and airy, like, perhaps, huffing helium on the tourist observation deck of a mountain. The feeling is unpleasant for me, but thankfully temporary.

I much prefer Blut aus Nord’s atonal side. This peaked (or perhaps bottomed out) with MoRT, the closest sonic representation of a hallucinogenically crippling stomachache that I’ve heard. It’s the sound of man vs. machine, with man losing the lead in the third quarter. But the commercial break before the fourth quarter lasts forever. Blut aus Nord turns it into an infinite abyss of sickness. (Admittedly, most TV feels that way to me already. The music is just worse.)

But I respect Blut aus Nord’s duality. It’s interesting because it’s not an on-off proposition. Instead, its proportions shift organically. Blut aus Nord’s catalogue can be represented by two lines representing its melodic and a-melodic sides. Early in the band’s career, the melodic line is high in energy, and its a-melodic line is low in energy. Over time, however, the melody decreases, and the a-melody increases, so that they meet at an equilibrium: 2003’s The Work Which Transforms God. Its balance of light and dark is probably why it’s Blut aus Nord’s most well-regarded work.

. . .

Allow me to digress. The Work Which Transforms God is a fascinating title because it obeys quantum physics, which states that the very act of observing/measuring an object changes its state. (Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I think? I nearly failed high school physics, so my armchair parsing of this topic may very well be bunk.) So an album about God would change the nature of God. However, that would contradict the existence of God – at least the Christian one, which is believed to be immutable.

This reminds me of the omnipotence paradox, with which, again, I only have an armchair understanding. The common example of this paradox is “Could an omnipotent being create a stone so heavy that even that being could not lift it?” In other words, could God create something that denies Himself? Change that stone to quantum physics: If God is immutable, and if God created everything, then God created quantum physics. However, as stated above, quantum physics contradicts God’s existence. What then?

(If any physicists or mathematicians out there could shed light this stuff, I’d appreciate it.)

. . .

777 – Sect(s) (Debemur Morti, 2011) is another equilibrium of light and dark. It has a leg or two up on The Work. Its production is stronger, and the years of experience gained are evident. Everything sounds bigger and more daring. The trademark atonality is present, but it forks into menacing jangles and triumphant melodies. These turns are unpredictable, and over time the effect is simultaneously hellish and heavenly. This is agony and ecstasy, man and machine fighting and fucking and birthing lightning bolts that crackle from on high to the nethermost regions. If Godflesh had not softened into Jesu, but instead folded Jesu’s positivity into its massive exoskeleton, along with further knowledge of good and evil – black metal – this might have resulted. Orthodox black metal talks a lot about equating Satan with God, but it hasn’t made a sonic equation this developed. Even without overt language (no printed lyrics come with this record), this music speaks to something beyond.

— Cosmo Lee

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HEAR 777 – SECT(S)

– Full album stream –

. . .

BUY 777 – SECT(S)

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