|Review: Blut Aus Nord - Memoria Vetusta I: Father of the Icy Age|
|Memoria Vetusta I: Father of the Icy Age|
Label: Impure Creations Records
Year released: 1996
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: March 17, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
for:Memoria Vetusta I: Father of the Icy Age
Following up a classic debut is a tall order, and one that many bands are not really up to. On occasion though, a band will out do the lofty heights of a near flawless debut and surpass it in a manner that leaves them almost nowhere else to go. That's what Blut Aus Nord did with Memoria Vetusta 1: Fathers of the Icy Age – they took the amazing foundation of Ultima Thulée and expanded upon it to create near perfection. There are many out there who consider The Work Which Transforms God to be Blut Aus Nord's finest hour, but to my mind that honour rests here as Memoria Vetusta 1 does not have to struggle with an identity crisis. It knows what it is, what it needs to do, and most importantly it does it.
The opening riff of "On the Path of Wolf Towards the Dwarfhill" is incredibly heavy in both tone and execution and accompanied by a full toned melodic lead and some Summoning styled harsh vocals. The track, and the album as a whole, conveys that same sense of epic grandeur so prevalent on Summoning's later works, but the execution is obviously much different. The middle of the track sports and exquisitely melodic guitar solo that segues beautifully into a keyboard driven melody under which the voice of a child speaks, and then some of the heaviest riffs I've ever heard flat out smash your face in as Vindsval screams with his harsh and vicious voice. This is the gift of Memoria Vetusta – a blending of savagery and beauty that is presented in a manner like never before. This is evidenced on the warbling, spacey guitar tone of the "Sons of Wisdom " main riff, the juxtaposition of wall of sound brutality, elegant melody and clean singing put on "The Forsaken Voices of the Ghostwood's Shadowy Realm", and the quiet sanctuary in the midst of "The Territory of Witches/Guardians of the Dark Lake" that continues into a brutal and soaring melodic end section that will propel your horned fist high into the air as you head bang for all you're worth.
The production here is much warmer than Ultima Thulée with the cleaner guitar tone removing you from the expanse of unending ice and cold, and placing you upon greener pastures. The atmosphere is still prevalent but this time you are surrounded by mountains and forests set with an autumnal air. This feel is enhanced by the presence of the bass as it weaves in and out of the main riffs and the distant clean vocals of "Slaughter Day" that echo through trees rather than across an empty expanse. The vocals of Vindsval are varied across all tracks with an utterly malevolent coarse rasp or bark being the main stay, frequently augmented with a rousing baritone and floating clean tone. They are used to maximum effective through out, and the soaring voice at the end of "Slaughterday (The Heathen Blood of Ours)" lifts the track into the realms of the exquisitely epic. The only real let down on the album is the drums; their mechanical sound and often straight forward approach lends the album a slight under current of the industrial in places and it is quite at odds with the vista being painted by the other instruments.
With Memoria Vetusta 1: Fathers of the Icy Age, Blut Aus Nord took the formula of their debut and drove it to the next level. Not content to rest upon the foundation they had already built, they expanded their sound and shifted the setting of their tales to create a true sequel rather than a simple retelling or rehash. There really is no other album quite like this in the genre, and for this reason, as well as its incredible execution of course, it belongs in the collection of any and all Black Metal fans, as well as those who expect that little something extra from their metal.
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