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Codex Obscura Nomina [Digipak]


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Performer Notes
  • Recording information: Earthsound (04/2015-07/2015); Parish (04/2015-07/2015).
  • The first thing that comes to mind when considering the split on Codex Obscura Nomina is "what took so long?" France's Blut Aus Nord have, since the very beginning, challenged all definitions of extreme music. Their recordings have run the gamut in terms of playing, production techniques, and sonic experimentation. The American ?vangelist, on the other hand, define themselves as "new age death metal," and that's only partially tongue in cheek: they've unwrapped the genre by adding an almost unbearably intense industrial attack, avant-garde tonal studies, and black metal aesthetics. Whether they acknowledge it or not, they are logical musical descendants of Blut Aus Nord.
  • The French band's contribution is a four-track suite bound under the title "Spectral Sonic Waves (The Sound Is an Organic Matter)." Blut Aus Nord go even further out of their way to destroy genre boundaries -- even blurring the sounds of individual instruments, apart from drum machine loops. Their "anti-harmonic" approach has been deeply influenced by Wolfgang Rihm and Luigi Nono. The only one of these jams with any kind of a "hook" is "Evanescent Hallucinations." Its plodding cascade of broken, shuffling drums, layers of repetitive choral voices, thick, blackened ambience, spiraling noise, pasty, nebulous, modal guitars and basses act as a riff-like foundation for indecipherable lead vocals -- think early Godflesh. Their final cut, "Infra-Voices Ensemble," weds smeared, detuned Swans-like guitar and bass throb, industrial beats, and backmasked vocals, then dissolves into formless ambience to close. The notorious ?vangelist come much closer to black metal with their 21-minute "Threshold of the Miraculous." In the first half there are hammering blastbeats, angular, atonal guitar vamps, and vocalist Ascaris screaming on top of the music, all of it layered in noise. It builds to a massive crescendo before stopping, then shifts gears. Ascaris delivers clear-voiced spoken lyrics in English and French that are reminiscent of -- if not direct quotes from -- the French philosopher of extreme human experience, Georges Bataille. Then Ascaris' guttural death metal roar climbs into Matron Thorn's black metal squall. A balance of clean spoken and dirty sung vocals alternates through the rest of the piece. The music shifts continually, embracing then obliterating the metal genres in its path until only the roar of silence remains. This jam meanders a lot less than the completely improvised "Omniquity" they delivered on To the Dream Plateau of Hideous Revelation, their 2013 split with Esoterica. Blut Aus Nord employ so much conscious experimentation on Codex Obscura Nomina, it blunts the force of their attack somewhat. On the other side, for all of its thrumming sonic chaos, shifting dynamics, and extreme music indulgences, ?vangelist deliver a more focused and powerful work. ~ Thom Jurek
Professional Reviews
Spin - "Creeping classical chord progressions, prickly noise, and sticky industrial grit churn together to build ornate, Victorian structures that solidify from the molten tinkering below."

Pitchfork (Website) - "Drawing far more heavily from avant-garde, classical, and industrial influences this time, Blut Aus Nord bend pitch to such a degree that they almost manage to erase all preconceived notions of harmony too."
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