Perhaps one of the most exciting things about a Blut Aus Nord record is not really knowing which side of the band you're going to get; will it be the cold, industrial & mechanical side of the band like "The Work Which Transforms God" or perhaps the melodic stylings of "Memoria Vetusta"? It would seem that "Hallucinogen" for the most part falls into the latter category yet still retains some of the more mechanical stylings of the other half of the band.
To say this is maybe the most musically accomplished record the band has produced so far wouldn't be an understatement. "Hallucinogen" is a hypnotic, metamorphosing beast, in the same way that staring at the same wall with a head full of acid for 3 hours can be! It's textured, dynamic and sonically astounding, it's an album that is nearly devoid of vocals and yet still manages to captivate and intrigue the listener.
Musically the album covers so much territory that it's almost hard to chart, influence is drawn from so many corners and yet ultimately is moulded into a completely unique beast. Enchanting riffs, dynamics and textures for aeons and a general aura of mysticism. In the same way that dimethyltryptamine journeys seem to mutate and evolve over the course of a short period of time (that feels way longer) so does "Hallucinogen". As much as the album may seem to be inspired by such psychonautic excursions, it is by no means a 'mellow, love-for-all', although melody is abound throughout the album. Make no mistake there is nothing held back and feels like perhaps the most ultimate expression of whatever is in Vindsval's head ever; a beautiful cacophony. Just as the mind settles into the pattern and joy of one part, the next exciting and revelatory part ensues. Enthralling blasting sections give way to serene choir backed breaks and soaring lead riffs.
As an album, it's hard to digest in one sitting and despite the 5+ listens I've had of this album so far, I still have yet for all of it to sink in. Perhaps the mark of a truly great album is its ability to be enjoyable from the start but each further listen rewards the listener more each time as the package is unfurled.
"Hallucinogen" production is once again something to be admired, it's typical Blut Aus Nord, a sound that through the years has become immediately recognisable, perhaps the bands greatest achievement is the fact that regardless of how the production sounds the music is always there to back it up. It's not a 'by the numbers' record (which admittedly I've experienced with BAN before — "Odinist..." & "MoRT" for example), everything has been dedicated to this record and it shows.
Generally I'm a fan of the cold, mechanical side of BAN (777, The Work Which...) and their more melodic efforts whilst enjoyable have never hit quite the same spot. I can't say that this album scratches that particular itch, however, I will say this, the album is nearly flawless in its breadth and scope and anyone looking at how to write black metal thats melodically engaging and somewhat traditional — this is how you do it. It took me a few listens to realise how few vocals there were, if anything is an indicator of how compelling the music is, then I think that says it all.
Also listen to: Yerûšelem (Blut Aus Nord)’s track "Babel"
"Hallucinogen" is available for order on Digipack CD, Gatefold vinyl 2x12", cassette and digital version via Debemur Morti Productions. You can order it at these locations: Europe, USA, and Bandcamp.
Reviewed by Dan Thaumitan