Then, these two albums comprise the first parts in the 777 trilogy, of which each track (all titled "Epitome") are subcomponent parts. And many of the individual tracks are clearly assembled from distinct sections of music, often jarringly. And those sections of each track are made up of various musical parts - guitars, rhythms, vocals, etc... Down to the atomic particle level, and maybe beyond.
What you're getting here is some high-grade avant-experimental Black Metal, from France. (Might take some effort.)
Like some twisted, multi-part, disorienting palate-cleanser, Blut Aus Nord begins the trilogy with "Epitome I".
"Epitome I" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
This track serves as a microcosm of the entire suite (so far), sort of like the early laying-out of themes in a classical piece. The themes are "do not let your expectations come to rest." What happens here: frenzied, howling, blast-beat and tremolo-riffing blow-out; doomy, dissonant creepy-crawl through an evil cathedral; spiraling psych guitar interlude with lurching rhythms; more frenzy, with lizard-demon chanting; drop out to an ambient trip-hop outro. Within each section, so many nooks & crannies have special little details. Like the way the blast-beat sections have different percussion effects incorporated, or how extended the riff pattern is during the second frenzied part. The guitar playing in the slower parts sounds really good, and just the fact of how the song goes out.
"Epitome II" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
C'mon, let's start over... Definitely a favorite, in a more traditional mold. Good mid-tempo pace, droning guitar figure, dark ambience, majestic melody, moving beween the synths and guitar - very dramatic. Great composition, very nice production!
"Epitome III" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
But a whole album of that would become boring. Part 3 seems to be deconstructing its opening riff while the song plays on, with a choir in hell bemoaning its fate. The breakdowns keep the listener on your toes. The false stop brings a major shift in tone, into space, where the bendy guitar lines roam.
"Epitome IV" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
Here's the centerpiece of album 1, and it goes all over the place (again). The opening back-and-forth between asymmetric guitar with reverse-vocals and more structure works very effectively. In the spot where I'd expect a guitar solo breakout, only a background lead guitar line is incoporated - moving into a different (non-solo) section. The chugging middle part goes deep into Neurosis/Isis post-metal territory, but the spidery guitar interlude afterwards pulls way back into clear BAN airspace. I've definitely noticed the thrashier style takes me longer to apprecitate fully, but the other end of the spectrum (slower, groovier) is much easier. Beyond just being styles the band likes to write in, I can see how both sides function to illuminate each other. And I usually come around to enjoying most of the blasting eventually.
I was just going to link to "Epitome V," but appropriately no-one's bothered to put it up. Definitely the least on Sect(s), although still passable.
"Epitome VI" from 777: Sect(s) (2011)
And Blut Aus Nord decided to leave us with another relatively trad post-rock-metal style tune. They do it well, "II" and "VI" are definitely the places to start for this - or Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue with the Stars (#1 Metal Next 10, 2009). However, I also wouldn't want six straight 7-minute tunes like these all in a row. Dual guitars at the very end are still really haunting.
So April's 777: Sect(s) was pretty awesome. 777: The Desanctification came out in November, and it's better.
"Epitome VII" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
More drone-guitar, more backwards-vocals, more machine-drums, more synth-choir. But much more than the sum of its parts. The most Near East sounds that I've heard from BAN, then things go soaring, and then dive into weirdness. The last section swoops and swerves and does everything but crashland. The double-bass drum parts! The freak-out guitar trajectory!! I sometimes wonder if "Epitome" is supposed to portmanteau in something about "tome," like an ancient book of forgotten lore.
"Epitome VIII" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
This section has two main parts, with slight offset. I don't know why, but I really really dig the first half of "VIII" - reminds me of punk, noise rock, prog, metal obviously, horror soundtracks/sound effects, plus... more. Just relentless. Then parts change, and the guitar goes into a completely different mode. But lots of the structure continues for awhile, shaded differently by the guitar. Then everything else catches up, and it's all new over again. And again, the end provides something almost (but not exactly) distinct - I'm just now recognizing "the payoff" pattern with these late-game heroics.
"Epitome IX" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
Bet you weren't expecting that, huh? Blut Aus Psych'arabia.
"Epitome X" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
#10 ("X") starts off pretty standard, then quickly takes it up a big notch. Clean vocals? Laid-back riff? What?! It circles around a bit until the midpoint breakdown(s) throw a few more curveballs. (Somehow I don't think the trilogy is about baseball...) So much awesome stuff coming in such quick succession down the stretch. (... nor about horse racing.)
Seriously, I think the lyrics are all in French. I have no idea what's actually going on. But I'm going to say that 777, "Epitome," Sect(s), and Desanctification, lead me to intuit some kind of grand pattern resolving to ultimate perfection and/or debasement, orthodoxy and/or heresy. Sound good? Okay...
"Epitome XI" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
"Epitome XII" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
See above... #11 ("XI") and #12 ("XII") might be a little too similar to stand side-by-side - but perhaps not. "Epitome XII" gets the slight nod overall, with "XI" having the better end-of-times payoff.
"Epitome XIII" from 777: The Desanctification (2011)
Pretty heady ending to the first two parts. Kinda running out of stuff to say, but "XIII" is as good as you'd expect the 13th "Epitome" to be in a 777 trilogy of esoteric numberology.
According to the BAN Wikipedia page, part 3 will be called 777: Cosmosophy (2012). But according to Debemur Morti Productions, it won't be until after May - but maybe by the end of September.
Genre - Industrialized Black Metal
Official/Myspace - myspace.com/thehowlingofgod
Location - France
Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Eitrin Editions