October 6, 2014

Blut aus Nord / P.H.O.B.O.S. – Triunity

Written by Craig Hayes.

Cover art by Katarzyna Urbanek

No matter the style, tone, or texture of their releases, what’s always stood out in the discography of Blut aus Nord is that the band exhibits a breathtaking array of ideas, creative prowess, and instrumental expertise. The avant-garde French black metal band has constantly reshaped their sound over the years, and it’s all been delivered with wholehearted (or, perhaps more aptly, blackhearted) commitment. The band’s trademark metaphysical aesthetic has shadowed all of the band’s work, but the strongest element that binds releases such as Memoria Vetusta II, MoRT, Odinist, or the band’s heralded 777 trilogy, is Blut aus Nord’s consistent desire to experiment and remain unpredictable.

There’s no change in that approach on Blut aus Nord’s latest split release, Triunity, where the band shares space with fellow French outfit P.H.O.B.O.S. Frédéric Sacri is the artist behind P.H.O.B.O.S, and while the one-man band gazes into the abyss for inspiration like Blut aus Nord, P.H.O.B.O.S. favours the world of droning doom and industrial metal. P.H.O.B.O.S and Blut aus Nord certainly operate at different points on the extreme music compass, but there’s a clear alliance of wills where both bands favour esoteric sounds that ignore schlock chills and aim for something deeper and more unnerving.

Blut aus Nord mainman, Vindsval, is joined by drummer Thorns on Triunity; and that live percussion brings a more organic punch to the band’s three songs on the release. “De Librio Arbitrio”, “Hùbris” and “Némeïnn” mix crooked and choral vocals with eerie synths, and, of course, Blut aus Nord’s contorted riffs and melodies all feature heavily. In amongst the layers of atmospheric and Gothic grimness, there’s a sense of meticulously arranged experimentalism, where Blut aus Nord’s evolving process also brings the presence of menacing otherworldly forces. For anyone who’s enjoyed Blut aus Nord’s previous exploring of ominous shades of darkness, Triunity is set to be as equally rewarding.

P.H.O.B.O.S. brings something very different to Triunity. As mentioned, there are ties that bind the two bands, but it's probably an intimidating prospect to be sharing a split with Blut aus Nord. No problem there, because P.H.O.B.O.S. easily holds their own on “Glowing Phosphoros”, “Transfixed at Golgotha” and “Ahrimanic Impulse Victory”. Where Blut aus Nord approach the infinite void with a sense of imposing grandeur, P.H.O.B.O.S. is more surgical in methodology. Deep space electronics are fed through bitter industrialism on P.H.O.B.O.S.’ tracks. Glitchy lurches, pitch-black drone, and warped synths and samples all twist around each other, as P.H.O.B.O.S. displays a knack for evoking urban decay, and the fear of a world well past the point of return.

While Blut aus Nord and P.H.O.B.O.S. each take very different routes through the darkness on Triunity, they meet at the point where nightmares are not so easily shaken off during daylight hours. Both bands bring that feeling of profound unease we know well when we look out the corner of our eye, and see that ever-present undercurrent of doom and despair waiting to strike. Call it all harmonious disharmony, or perhaps a shared sense of discord, Triunity offers two avenues of enmity that end where the truth of existence is laid bare, in all its disconcerting horror.

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