Blut Aus Nord and Ævangelist. Never did I think I would see these two highly prolific, creative entities on the same title page together, sharing the same canvas, the same release date – or at least, never did it come to mind that such an utterly perfect diabolical union could ever take place because it would be just that – too perfect. Revolutionaries of the black/death metal underground, these two acts cannot be easily pinned down or explained, for their very existences are not merely fixed in time, but made up from spontaneous bursts of black creative energy that does not lend itself to any known convention or guideline. At best, they seem to me empty vessels through which reflections of aether pass; conduits for expressing that which is beyond our understanding, as it were.
And in this dream split scenario where each project gives us around twenty minutes a piece of fresh, new material to sink our teeth into, it becomes abundantly clear early on that it is actually the material that will be taking a bite out of the listener, and not the other way around. Coming across like little borderless vignettes based in another dimension, the songs the make up the Blut Aus Nord side of the split are truly intoxicating in nature. To be sure, it is Blut Aus Nord at their best, albeit in the weirdest of ways. Song titles like “Evanescent Hallucinations,” “Resonnance(s),”The Parallel Echoes,” and “Infra-Voices Ensemble” all contain within the very words I would use to describe them. For each industrialized vignette is another hallucination, another nightmare, another resonating sequence of chords and blurred voices emanating from the dark, murky waters of the subconscious and projected for our disillusioned enjoyment.
The kind of songs that don’t require the use of drugs to feel loopy, each note pinned from Vindsval subtly elevates the structure of each piece as undercurrents ebb and flow at a moderate to slow, deliberate pace, bending and distorting the overall vibe and cumulative experience of the listener along the way, something that’s picked up on more with each listen as you find yourself sinking deeper within the folds that make up these highly imaginative sequences. Indeed, a true labyrinth of immensity, the Blut Aus Nord side of this split in itself contains some of the most densely layered, psyche crumbling minutes in all of metal, minutes filled with a myriad of sounds and shifts all important and measured with great taste in their immutable progression. As always, Blut Aus Nord have created something enigmatic in a very base world, something that exists of itself, for itself, and by itself; music that goes beyond established norms of music and subliminally emanates a kind of wonder that sparks wonder within, the kind that makes you question the very nature of experience itself.
Meanwhile, the Ævangelist side of the split has something very different, yet similar to offer. A big departure from the hallucinatory snippets emitted from BAN, Ævangelist go the other way completely with “Threshold of the Miraculous,” a 21+ minute long affair that casts an immeasurable shadow upon much of what passes for “innovative” or “interesting” in the underground today. And that’s not a slight to what may broadly be called “the underground”. I think its thriving and that there are a lot of bands contributing meaningful material to the landscape, but what Ævangelist bring to the table on Codex Obscura Nomina and have been serving up for some years now, is without equal.
Lacking a dull moment, “Threshold of the Miraculous” lives up to its name, as it may very well be the single most complete, patient-sounding material Ævangelist have crafted to date. With Matron Thorn behind the kit, the Ævangelist dynamic is as flexible and tempered as ever with real drumming providing the kind of organic textures and natural shifts in flow that a machine simply cannot replicate. And really, with this track, its all about the flow. To be as active and engaging a track as it is, yet so lengthy, it would have to be nearly flawless in execution – in its flow – for it to be effective anyway, and Ævangelist answer that bell and then some.
A true testament to the song writing abilities of Matron Thorn and Ascaris, “Threshold…” is marked by a steady hand, a profound sense of purpose, and a definite end in mind, and its this careful craftsmanship that gives it such a massive aura, as the first ten minutes are marked by grandiose shifts in atmosphere at the 3:40 mark and to a greater extent around 9:35, when a subtle, evocative riff change brings about the kind of moment in a piece of art that completely arrests you, a moment purely sublime in nature that touches you to your core. I digress: these are the kinds of moments you live for when listening to a piece of music.
Intermittently, the action subsides into barren hip hop-esque industrial passages paired with spoken vocals from Ascaris, whose distant words echo and reside within, especially latter on when the phrase “Eternity depends on this” is repeated over and over again. Its hard for this not to stick with me given the massive, sprawling nature of “Threshold…” From start to finish the overall tone is, to me, their most black metal sounding work to date, but also their most cohesive by far. They really tapped into something, well, miraculous, and its evident on every passing moment for this has to be one of the fastest 20 minute long songs I’ve ever come across. The pacing of it, the continuity of its movements, and the overall vision go by in a flash. It really is an expression of the infinite, something like the other side of the coin in this marriage of Avant-Garde black/death metal giants, for Ævangelist really round things out in the most grandiose of fashions and do more than give the legendary Vindsval a run for his money in terms of quality.
I was stunned when I saw these two names paired together and the payoff is more than I could have ever dreamed for. Blut Aus Nord and Ævangelist have collided and conjoined in the most majestically evil of ways on this effort and you would be a fool not to lend your ears, for the material put forth is of the highest caliber. Rarely do you see two acts come together like this and deliver on this kind of stage. Fans of both bands should be highly intrigued by both sides, and in conclusion, Codex Obscura Nomina is a far beyond a winner – it’s a flat-out masterpiece.